X-ray emission from faint galaxies and quasars
In this thesis a study of faint X-ray sources is undertaken to understand the nature and origin of the Cosmic X-ray Background (XRB). A study of the X-ray variability characteristics of the QSO population is also presented. The optical identification of faint ROSAT sources is described. A large fraction of these sources are identified as QSOs. A number of the remaining sources appear to be associated with faint galaxies with a range of morphological types. The discovery of a rare, high redshift obscured QSO is also described and discussed. A method is developed to study the X-ray variability of faint QSOs. Low amplitude variability (~ 25% rms) on timescales of hours to days appears to be characteristic. Contrary to the trends apparent in local AGN, the QSO population show no evidence for a decrease in variability amplitude with luminosity. There is also no trend in variability with redshift, which may favour a short lived model for QSO evolution. A bright, highly variable Seyfert galaxy is analysed in detail. To constrain the galaxy contribution to the XRB a cross-correlation analysis is presented. Cross-correlating faint galaxy catalogues with unidentified X-ray sources suggests that faint b(_i) < 23 galaxies account for ~ 21 ± 6% of all X-ray sources to a flux limit S(0.5 - 2.0 keV) ~ 4 x l0(^-15)ergs(^-1)cm(^-2). Galaxies are then cross-correlated with the remaining unresolved XRB. A highly significant signal is obtained on 3 deep ROSAT fields. Using a formalism to model the galaxy population and its clustering, an estimate of the local X-ray volume emissivity is obtained. The results suggest that b(_j) < 23 galaxies contribute ~ 20% of the unresolved XRB. Comparing the cross-correlation of faint and bright galaxies with theoretical models reveals strong evolution in the X-ray luminosity of galaxies with the form L(_x) oc (1 + z)(^3±1). Extrapolation to high redshift suggests that faint galaxies contribute 50 - 100% of the unresolved XRB. Finally, a study of the X-ray spectra of faint ROSAT sources is presented. The mean source spectra harden significantly at lower flux. Separating the QSOs from the unidentified sources and galaxies, we find no trend in the 0.5 - 2 keV spectra of QSOs. The remaining population produces the spectral hardening. Taking a subset of the most probable X-ray luminous galaxies, these show significantly harder spectra than QSOs with a mean photon index of Γ ~ 1.5 ± 0.1. X-ray luminous galaxies could therefore account for the missing component of the XRB.