X-ray emission from star-forming galaxies - signatures of cosmic rays and magnetic fields

Schober, J.; Schleicher, D. R. G.; Klessen, R. S.


The evolution of magnetic fields in galaxies is still an open problem in astrophysics. In nearby galaxies the far-infrared-radio correlation indicates the coupling between magnetic fields and star formation. The correlation arises from the synchrotron emission of cosmic ray electrons travelling through the interstellar magnetic fields. However, with an increase of the interstellar radiation field (ISRF), inverse Compton scattering becomes the dominant energy loss mechanism of cosmic ray electrons with a typical emission frequency in the X-ray regime. The ISRF depends on the one hand on the star formation rate and becomes stronger in starburst galaxies, and on the other hand increases with redshift due to the higher temperature of the cosmic microwave background. With a model for the star formation rate of galaxies, the ISRF, and the cosmic ray spectrum, we can calculate the expected X-ray luminosity resulting from the inverse Compton emission. Except for galaxies with an active galactic nucleus the main additional contribution to the X-ray luminosity comes from X-ray binaries. We estimate this contribution with an analytical model as well as with an observational relation, and compare it to the pure inverse Compton luminosity. Using data from the Chandra Deep Field Survey and far-infrared observations from Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, we then determine upper limits for the cosmic ray energy. Assuming that the magnetic energy in a galaxy is in equipartition with the energy density of the cosmic rays, we obtain upper limits for the magnetic field strength. Our results suggest that the mean magnetic energy of young galaxies is similar to the one in local galaxies. This points towards an early generation of galactic magnetic fields, which is in agreement with current dynamo evolution models.

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Volumen: 446
Número: 1
Editorial: Oxford Academic
Fecha de publicación: 2015
Página de inicio: 2
Página final: 17


Notas: ISI