2,357 research outputs found

    Are stellar over-densities in dwarf galaxies the "smoking gun" of triaxial dark matter haloes?

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    We use N-body simulations to study the tidal evolution of globular clusters (GCs) in dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxies. Our models adopt a cosmologically motivated scenario in which the dSph is approximated by a static NFW halo with a triaxial shape. For a large set of orbits and projection angles we examine the spatial and velocity distribution of stellar debris deposited during the complete disruption of stellar clusters. Our simulations show that such debris appears as shells, isolated clumps and elongated over-densities at low surface brightness (>26 mag/arcsec^2), reminiscent of substructure observed in several MW dSphs. Such features arise from the triaxiality of the galaxy potential and do not dissolve in time. Stellar over-densities reported in several MW dSphs may thus be the telltale evidence of dark matter haloes being triaxial in shape. We explore a number of kinematic signatures that would help to validate (or falsify) this scenario. The mean angular momentum of the cluster debris associated with box and resonant orbits, which are absent in spherical potentials, is null. As a result, we show that the line-of-sight velocity distribution may exhibit a characteristic "double-peak" depending on the oriention of the viewing angle with respect to the progenitor's orbital plane. Kinematic surveys of dSphs may help to detect and identify substructures associated with the disruption of stellar clusters, as well as to address the shape of the dark matter haloes in which dSphs are embedded.Comment: 4 pages, 2 figures, to be published in the proceedings of "Hunting for the Dark: The Hidden Side of Galaxy Formation", Malta, 19-23 Oct. 2009, eds. V.P. Debattista & C.C. Popescu, AIP Conf. Ser., in pres

    Bayesian analysis of resolved stellar spectra: application to MMT/Hectochelle Observations of the Draco dwarf spheroidal

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    We introduce a Bayesian method for fitting faint, resolved stellar spectra in order to obtain simultaneous estimates of redshift and stellar-atmospheric parameters. We apply the method to thousands of spectra---covering 5160-5280 Angs. at resolution R~20,000---that we have acquired with the MMT/Hectochelle fibre spectrograph for red-giant and horizontal branch candidates along the line of sight to the Milky Way's dwarf spheroidal satellite in Draco. The observed stars subtend an area of ~4 deg^2, extending ~3 times beyond Draco's nominal `tidal' radius. For each spectrum we tabulate the first four moments---central value, variance, skewness and kurtosis---of posterior probability distribution functions representing estimates of the following physical parameters: line-of-sight velocity v_los, effective temperature (T_eff), surface gravity (logg) and metallicity ([Fe/H]). After rejecting low-quality measurements, we retain a new sample consisting of 2813 independent observations of 1565 unique stars, including 1879 observations for 631 stars with (as many as 13) repeat observations. Parameter estimates have median random errors of sigma_{v_los}=0.88 km/s, sigma_{T_eff}=162 K, sigma_logg=0.37 dex and sigma_[Fe/H]=0.20 dex. Our estimates of physical parameters distinguish ~470 likely Draco members from interlopers in the Galactic foreground.Comment: published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, all data are publicly available at the following address: http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/mgwalker/hectochelle

    Measuring the slopes of mass profiles for dwarf spheroidals in triaxial CDM potentials

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    We generate stellar distribution functions (DFs) in triaxial haloes in order to examine the reliability of slopes ΓΔlogM/Δlogr\Gamma\equiv \Delta {\rm log} M / \Delta {\rm log} r inferred by applying mass estimators of the form MReσ2M\propto R_e\sigma^2 (i.e. assuming spherical symmetry, where ReR_e and σ\sigma are luminous effective radius and global velocity dispersion, respectively) to two stellar sub-populations independently tracing the same gravitational potential. The DFs take the form f(E)f(E), are dynamically stable, and are generated within triaxial potentials corresponding directly to subhaloes formed in cosmological dark-matter-only simulations of Milky Way and galaxy cluster haloes. Additionally, we consider the effect of different tracer number density profiles (cuspy and cored) on the inferred slopes of mass profiles. For the isotropic DFs considered here, we find that halo triaxiality tends to introduce an anti-correlation between ReR_e and σ\sigma when estimated for a variety of viewing angles. The net effect is a negligible contribution to the systematic error associated with the slope of the mass profile, which continues to be dominated by a bias toward greater overestimation of masses for more-concentrated tracer populations. We demonstrate that simple mass estimates for two distinct tracer populations can give reliable (and cosmologically meaningful) lower limits for Γ\Gamma, irrespective of the degree of triaxiality or shape of the tracer number density profile.Comment: 5 pages, 4 figures, submitted to MNRA

    A dynamical model of the local cosmic expansion

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    We combine the equations of motion that govern the dynamics of galaxies in the local volume with Bayesian techniques in order to fit orbits to published distances and velocities of galaxies within 3\sim 3 Mpc. We find a Local Group (LG) mass 2.3±0.7×1012M2.3\pm 0.7\times 10^{12}{\rm M}_\odot that is consistent with the combined dynamical masses of M31 and the Milky Way, and a mass ratio 0.540.17+0.230.54^{+0.23}_{-0.17} that rules out models where our Galaxy is more massive than M31 with 95%\sim 95\% confidence. The Milky Way's circular velocity at the solar radius is relatively high, 245±23245\pm 23 km/s, which helps to reconcile the mass derived from the local Hubble flow with the larger value suggested by the `timing argument'. Adopting {\it Planck}'s bounds on ΩΛ\Omega_\Lambda yields a (local) Hubble constant H0=67±5H_0=67\pm 5km/s/Mpc which is consistent with the value found on cosmological scales. Restricted N-body experiments show that substructures tend to fall onto the LG along the Milky Way-M31 axis, where the quadrupole attraction is maximum. Tests against mock data indicate that neglecting this effect slightly overestimates the LG mass without biasing the rest of model parameters. We also show that both the time-dependence of the LG potential and the cosmological constant have little impact on the observed local Hubble flow.Comment: 22 pages, 14 figures. Accepted to MNRAS. An error in the apex calculation (Appendix A) was found and has been fixed. The new constraints favour models where the Milky Way is less massive than M31. The rest of model parameters and conclusions remain unchange

    A low pre-infall mass for the Carina dwarf galaxy from disequilibrium modelling

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    Dark matter only simulations of galaxy formation predict many more subhalos around a Milky Way like galaxy than the number of observed satellites. Proposed solutions require the satellites to inhabit dark matter halos with masses between one to ten billion solar masses at the time they fell into the Milky Way. Here we use a modelling approach, independent of cosmological simulations, to obtain a preinfall mass of 360 (+380,-230) million solar masses for one of the Milky Way's satellites: Carina. This determination of a low halo mass for Carina can be accommodated within the standard model only if galaxy formation becomes stochastic in halos below ten billion solar masses. Otherwise Carina, the eighth most luminous Milky Way dwarf, would be expected to inhabit a significantly more massive halo. The implication of this is that a population of "dark dwarfs" should orbit the Milky Way: halos devoid of stars and yet more massive than many of their visible counterparts.Comment: 5 pages, 3 figures, 1 table, and supplementary material availabl

    Systemic Proper Motions of Milky Way Satellites from Stellar Redshifts: the Carina, Fornax, Sculptor and Sextans Dwarf Spheroidals

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    The transverse motions of nearby dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxies contribute line-of-sight components that increase with angular distance from the dSph centers, inducing detectable gradients in stellar redshift. In the absence of an intrinsic velocity gradient (e.g., due to rotation or streaming), an observed gradient in the heliocentric rest frame (HRF) relates simply to a dSph's systemic proper motion (PM). Kinematic samples for the Milky Way's brightest dSph satellites are now sufficiently large that we can use stellar redshifts to constrain systemic PMs independently of astrometric data. Data from our Michigan/MIKE Fiber System (MMFS) Survey reveal significant HRF velocity gradients in Carina, Fornax and Sculptor, and no significant gradient in Sextans. Assuming there are no intrinsic gradients, the data provide a relatively tight constraint on the PM of Fornax, (mu_{alpha}^{HRF},mu_{delta}^{HRF})=(+48 +/- 15,-25 +/- 14) mas/century, that agrees with published HST astrometric measurements. Smaller data sets yield weaker constraints in the remaining galaxies, but our Carina measurement, (mu_{alpha}^{HRF},mu_{delta}^{HRF})=(+25 +/- 36,+16 +/- 43) mas/century, agrees with the published astrometric value. The disagreement of our Sculptor measurement, (mu_{alpha}^{HRF},mu_{delta}^{HRF})= (-40 +/- 29, -69 +/- 47) mas/century, with astrometric measurements is expected if Sculptor has a rotational component as reported by Battaglia et al. (2008). For Sextans, which at present lacks an astrometric measurement, we measure (mu_{alpha}^{HRF},mu_{delta}^{HRF})=(-26 +/- 41, +10 +/- 44) mas/century.Comment: Accepted for Publication by ApJ Letter