X-ray spectral components of starburst galaxies

M. Persic*, Y. Rephaeli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


X-ray emission processes in starburst galaxies (SBGs) are assessed, with the aim of identifying and characterizing the main spectral components. Our survey of spectral properties, complemented with a model for the evolution of galactic stellar populations, leads to the prediction of a complex spectrum. Comparing the predicted spectral properties with current X-ray measurements of the nearby SBGs M 82 and N253, we draw the following tentative conclusions: 1) X-ray binaries with accreting neutron stars are the main contributors in the 2-15 keV band, and could be responsible for the yet uninterpreted hard component required to fit the observed 0.5-10 kev spectra of SBGs; 2) diffuse thermal plasma contributes at energies ≲1 keV; 3) nonthermal emission, from Compton scattering of FIR and CMB radiation fields photons off supernova-accelerated relativistic electrons, and AGN-like emission, are likely be the dominant emission at energies ≳30 keV; 4) supernova remnants make a relatively minor contribution to the X-ray continuum but may contribute appreciably to the Fe-K emission at 6.7 keV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-859
Number of pages17
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Galaxies: spiral
  • Stars: formation
  • X-ray: galaxies


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