An XMM-Newton view of the X-ray properties of star-forming galaxies
This thesis presents X-ray observations from the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory of a sample of nearby star-forming galaxies: M101, NGC 3256, NGC 3310, NGC 7771/1 and NGC 2342/1. The spectral analysis examines the contributions from the various stellar and non-stellar processes occurring in these systems, utilizing complementary high spatial resolution data from the Chandra observatory to assess contributions from compact sources not resolved with XMM-Newton. The work begins with an investigation into the X-ray properties of the discrete source population of the supergiant spiral galaxy M101.;Spectroscopic and timing studies of the brightest source population show that they have properties consistent with accreting stellar-mass X-ray binary systems. Based on X-ray colour classification schemes, timing properties and multi-wavelength counterparts, the complete source population is shown to be dominated by accreting binary systems, with a smaller contribution from thermal supernova remnants. The analyses of the integrated emission from the powerful starburst merger galaxies NGC 3256 and NGC 3310 show contributions from non-thermal emission from populations of X-ray binaries, plus substantial emission from thermal plasmas with temperatures ranging between 0.2-0.9keV, representing supernova-heated gas and starburst driven superwinds. The X-ray/far-infrared (FIR) luminosities and plasma temperatures show correlations with the type of merger event and the age of the starburst component. Finally, two pairs of interacting galaxies are studied. In NGC 7771, discrete sources are resolved at the end of the galactic bar, and the first evidence of a low-luminosity active galactic nucleus (AGN) is detected spectroscopically. The remaining galaxies show similar spectral forms to the more powerful merger systems, and comparisons with other isolated, interacting and merging systems show that all galaxies follow established correlations for starburst galaxies between X-ray, FIR and radio luminosities.