X-ray Binary Evolution and the Connection to Star Formation in Nearby Galaxies with the Chandra Local Volume Survey
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X-ray binaries, especially those with a massive stellar companion, provide a unique probe through which one can study the end-points of high-mass stellar evolution while simultaneously tracing recent star formation. In this thesis, I analyze the high-mass X-ray binary populations of five nearby galaxies using matched observations from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. The global X-ray properties of the X-ray binary populations of these galaxies is correlated with the star formation histories of the host galaxies. Unlike previous studies of the X-ray--star formation connection, which corrects for contamination by background sources only in a statistical sense, I have developed a source classification scheme utilizing the resolved stellar populations from Hubble imaging to separate X-ray binary candidates from contaminating X-ray sources. This thesis validates the statistical corrective approach typically applied to more distant galaxies, where it is not possible to resolve individual stars. Additionally, the X-ray binary populations of these nearby galaxies is used to constrain models of massive star evolution. This includes an estimate of the fraction of massive evolved binaries that undergo an X-ray luminous phase, the characteristic timescale of the X-ray luminous phase, and the mass distribution of stellar companions in X-ray binaries.
- Astronomy