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The MOSDEF Survey: The Metallicity Dependence of X-Ray Binary Populations at z ∼ 2


Population synthesis models predict that high-mass X-ray binary (HMXB) populations produced in low-metallicity environments should be more X-ray luminous, a trend supported by studies of nearby galaxies. This trend may be responsible for the observed increase of the X-ray luminosity (L X) per star formation rate (SFR) with redshift due to the decrease of metallicity (Z) at fixed stellar mass as a function of redshift. To test this hypothesis, we use a sample of 79 z ∼ 2 star-forming galaxies with oxygen abundance measurements from the MOSDEF survey, which obtained rest-frame optical spectra for ∼1500 galaxies in the CANDELS fields at 1.37 < z < 3.80. Using Chandra data from the Chandra AEGIS-X Deep, Chandra Deep Field North, and Chandra Deep Field South surveys, we stack the X-ray data at the galaxy locations in bins of redshift and Z because the galaxies are too faint to be individually detected. In agreement with previous studies, the average L X/SFR of our z ∼ 2 galaxy sample is enhanced by ≈0.4-0.8 dex relative to local HMXB L X-SFR scaling relations. Splitting our sample by Z, we find that L X/SFR and Z are anticorrelated with 97% confidence. This observed Z dependence for HMXB-dominated galaxies is consistent with both the local L X-SFR-Z relation and a subset of population synthesis models. Although the statistical significance of the observed trends is weak owing to the low X-ray statistics, these results constitute the first direct evidence connecting the redshift evolution of L X/SFR and the Z dependence of HMXBs.

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