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D. Strickland (JHU), A. Ptak (JHU/NASA-GSFC)
We demonstrate the capability of Constellation-X to revolutionize our understanding of fundamental aspects of massive star physics, in particular mechanical energy ``feedback" from massive stars into the ISM and the physics of X-ray binaries, the nature of the mysterious ultraluminous X-ray sources and the contribution of star-forming galaxies to the X-ray background.
Starburst-driven superwinds have been established to be a ubiquitous phenomenon in strongly star-forming galaxies at all redshifts. The majority of the energy and newly synthesized heavy elements in such outflows is hidden in hot X-ray emitting gas (106 < T (K) < 108). Current X-ray observations lack the spectral resolution necessary to robustly constrain the ionization states, absolute elemental abundances and kinematics of the multi-phase hot gas. We present some illustrative examples of how the Constellation-X calorimeter will measure these properties for the first time.
Hard X-ray telescope (HXT) observations will detect the hard (E > 10 keV) X-ray emission of ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) and high-mass X-ray binaries which dominate the E>2 keV emission of starburst emission. These observations will determine to what extent the hard X-ray power-law and its cut-off energy are consistent with Galactic X-ray binaries, particularly black hole candidates. He-like Fe-K emission lines have been detected in the X-ray spectra of nearby starburst galaxies, which may be due to either a low-luminosity AGN or hot gas at temperatures of > 2\times 107 K. The imaging capability of the HXT will resolve the emission of the brightest X-ray binaries, allowing the contribution of hot gas and/or a low-luminosity AGN to be isolated. The HXT observations also promise to reveal the presence of a component due to inverse-Compton scattering of IR photons off of relativistic electrons. Establishing the demographics of these components will determine their contribution to the hard X-ray background.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.