EDGE: Two routes to dark matter core formation in ultra-faint dwarfs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In the standard Lambda cold dark matter paradigm, pure dark matter simulations predict dwarf galaxies should inhabit dark matter haloes with a centrally diverging density 'cusp'. This is in conflict with observations that typically favour a constant density 'core'. We investigate this 'cusp-core problem' in 'ultra-faint' dwarf galaxies simulated as part of the 'Engineering Dwarfs at Galaxy formation's Edge' project. We find, similarly to previous work, that gravitational potential fluctuations within the central region of the simulated dwarfs kinematically heat the dark matter particles, lowering the dwarfs' central dark matter density. However, these fluctuations are not exclusively caused by gas inflow/outflow, but also by impulsive heating from minor mergers. We use the genetic modification approach on one of our dwarf's initial conditions to show how a delayed assembly history leads to more late minor mergers and, correspondingly, more dark matter heating. This provides a mechanism by which even ultra-faint dwarfs ($M_∗ \lt 10^5\, \text{M}_{\odot }$), in which star formation was fully quenched at high redshift, can have their central dark matter density lowered over time. In contrast, we find that late major mergers can regenerate a central dark matter cusp, if the merging galaxy had sufficiently little star formation. The combination of these effects leads us to predict significant stochasticity in the central dark matter density slopes of the smallest dwarfs, driven by their unique star formation and mass assembly histories.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • University of Surrey
  • University College London
  • University of Paris-Saclay
  • Heidelberg University
  • Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich
  • University of Leicester
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology

Keywords

  • dark matter, galaxies: dwarf, galaxies: evolution, galaxies: formation, galaxies: haloes, methods: numerical
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3509-3522
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume504
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jul 1
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes