Cosmic rays (CRs) are high energy particles that are found wherever in the Universe star formation is occurring. I investigate several problems in the propagation of CRs in star-forming galaxies. By applying analytic models and numerically solving the “leaky box” differential equation, I calculate the population of primary and secondary CR protons, electrons and positrons in model star-forming galaxies and their nonthermal emission.
Observations show that the synchrotron radio emission of star-forming galaxies grows linearly with the infrared emission from dust-obscured young stars; this is the FIR-radio correlation (FRC). To explain the correlation, I constructed one-zone models of galaxies over the dynamic range of the FRC. I found that the FRC is caused by conspiracies of several factors, including CR escape from galaxies, ultraviolet (UV) dust opacity, non-synchrotron cooling, and secondary electrons and positrons generated by CR protons. The conspiracies have great implications for the evolution of the FRC at high redshift, preserving it and allowing variations in the FIR-radio ratio for submillimeter galaxies.
Recent gamma-ray observations of M82 and NGC 253 indicate that CR protons lose much of their energy to collisions in these galaxies’ dense gas, where they generate unstable pions that decay into gamma rays and secondary particles. The ratio of gamma-ray to radio luminosity indicates that secondary electrons mostly do not cool by synchrotron emission, supporting a conspiracy origin of the FRC.
I also compare the intensities of the diffuse cosmic gamma-ray background to the X-ray and radio backgrounds. From this comparison, I find that Inverse Compton is a minority of the X-ray background, and that the radio background is probably not from starbursts.
Finally, I modeled the nonthermal X-ray emission from starburst galaxies, both synchrotron from TeV electrons and Inverse Compton from GeV electrons. The synchrotron emission is enhanced by gamma-gamma pair production in the intense infrared radiation of starbursts. Synchrotron and Inverse Compton emission make up 1 - 10% of the observed diffuse hard X-ray emission observed in starburst galaxies.