Nature Publishing Group
The association of a supernova with GRB 0303291,2 strongly supports the collapsar model3 of -ray bursts (GRBs), where a relativistic jet4 forms after 1 the progenitor star collapses. Such jets cannot be spatially resolved because of their cosmological distances. Their existence is conjectured based on breaks in GRB afterglow light curves and the theoretical desire to reduce the GRB energy requirements. Temporal evolution of polarization5,6,7 may provide independent evidence for the jet structure of the relativistic outflow. Small-level polarization ( 1-3%)8−17 has been reported for a few bursts, but the temporal evolution of polarization properties could not be established. Here, we report polarimetric observations of the afterglow of GRB 030329 with high signal-to-noise and high sampling frequency. We establish the polarization light curve, detect sustained polarization at the percent level, and find significant variability. The data imply that the afterglow magnetic field has small coherence length and is mostly random, probably generated by turbulence, in contrast with the high polarization detected in the prompt -rays from GRB 02120618. Our results suggest a different structure and origin of the magnetic field in the prompt vs. afterglow emission regions.
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