Publication Date

April 2015

Advisor(s)

Roy Kilgard

Major

Astronomy

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

The advent of modern high-resolution X-ray astronomy in the form of the \textit{Chandra X-ray Observatory} has opened a new window into the high-energy universe. Scientists have been able to observe with unparalleled precision such fantastic phenomena as AGN, supernova remnants and X-ray binaries. We have since discovered that these exotic objects are actually quite prevalent, both in our own Milky Way and in external galaxies, and exert a tremendous influence on their surroundings. These objects are thus directly correlated with ISM kinematics and chemical enrichment, star-formation and galaxy evolution, and they serve as excellent astrophysical laboratories of exotic phenomena in their own rights. This work seeks to determine and systematically analyze the X-ray properties of the 335 discrete X-ray sources in The Whirlpool Galaxy, M51 (NGC 5194). It uses almost a Megasecond of archival \textit{Chandra} data spanning 12 years of observations to extract X-ray colors and source variability and fit the X-ray luminosity function, as well as \textit{Hubble Space Telescope} images from the Hubble Legacy Archive to find optical counterparts to the X-ray sources. I find a population dominated by high mass X-ray binaries that appear to have formed in a single epoch of star formation most likely caused by the interaction with NGC 5195. I also report the discovery of three nebulae coincident with X-ray sources, which are possibly shock-ionized nebulae blown by the jets of microquasars.

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