Matthew G. Walker

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

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Publications (45)245.91 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The ultra-faint dwarf galaxy Reticulum 2 (Ret 2) was recently discovered in images obtained by the Dark Energy Survey. We have observed the four brightest red giants in Ret 2 at high spectral resolution using the Michigan/Magellan Fiber System. We present detailed abundances for as many as 20 elements per star, including 12 elements heavier than the Fe group. We confirm previous detection of high levels of r-process material in Ret 2 (mean [Eu/Fe]=+1.69+/-0.05) found in three of these stars (mean [Fe/H]=-2.88+/-0.10). The abundances closely match the r-process pattern found in the well-studied metal-poor halo star CS22892-052. Such r-process-enhanced stars have not been found in any other ultra-faint dwarf galaxy, though their existence has been predicted by at least one model. The fourth star in Ret 2 ([Fe/H]=-3.42+/-0.20) contains only trace amounts of Sr ([Sr/Fe]=-1.73+/-0.43) and no detectable heavier elements. One r-process enhanced star is also enhanced in C (natal [C/Fe]=+1.1). This is only the third such star known, which suggests that the nucleosynthesis sites leading to C and r-process enhancements are decoupled. The r-process-deficient star is enhanced in Mg ([Mg/Fe]=+0.81+/-0.14), and the other three stars show normal levels of alpha-enhancement (mean [Mg/Fe]=+0.34+/-0.03). The abundances of other alpha and Fe-group elements closely resemble those in ultra-faint dwarf galaxies and metal-poor halo stars, suggesting that the nucleosynthesis that led to the large r-process enhancements either produced no light elements or produced light-element abundance signatures indistinguishable from normal supernovae.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016
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    ABSTRACT: We present results from spectroscopic observations with the Michigan/Magellan Fiber System (M2FS) of $147$ stellar targets along the line of sight to the newly-discovered `ultrafaint' stellar systems Tucana 2 (Tuc 2) and Grus 1 (Gru 1). Based on simultaneous estimates of line-of-sight velocity and stellar-atmospheric parameters, we identify 8 and 7 stars as probable members of Tuc 2 and and Gru 1, respectively. Our sample for Tuc 2 is sufficient to resolve an internal velocity dispersion of $8.6_{-2.7}^{+4.4}$ km s$^{-1}$ about a mean of $-129.1_{-3.5}^{+3.5}$ km s$^{-1}$ (solar rest frame), and to estimate a mean metallicity of [Fe/H]= $-2.23_{-0.12}^{+0.18}$. These results place Tuc 2 on chemodynamical scaling relations followed by dwarf galaxies, suggesting a dominant dark matter component with dynamical mass $2.7_{-1.3}^{+3.1}\times 10^6$ $\mathrm{M}_{\odot}$ enclosed within the central $\sim 160$ pc, and dynamical mass-to-light ratio $1900_{-900}^{+2200}$ $\mathrm{M}_{\odot}/L_{V,\odot}$. For Gru 1 we estimate a mean velocity of $-140.5_{-1.6}^{+2.4}$ km s$^{-1}$ and a mean metallicity of [Fe/H]=$-1.42_{-0.42}^{+0.55}$, but our sample does not resolve Gru 1's velocity dispersion. The radial coordinates of Tuc 2 and Gru 1 in Galactic phase space suggest that their orbits are among the most energetic within distance $\leq 300$ kpc. Moreover, their proximity to each other in this space arises naturally if both objects are trailing the Large Magellanic Cloud.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We analyze the resolved stellar populations of the faint stellar system, Crater, based on deep optical imaging taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The HST/ACS-based color-magnitude diagram (CMD) of Crater extends $\sim$4 magnitudes below the oldest main sequence turnoff, providing excellent leverage on Crater's physical properties. Structurally, Crater has a half-light radius of $\sim$20 pc and shows no evidence for tidal distortions. Crater is well-described by a simple stellar population with an age of $\sim$7.5 Gyr, [M/H]$\sim-1.65$, a M$_{\star}\sim10^4$ M$_{\odot}$, M$_{\rm V}\sim -5.3$, located at a distance of (d$_{\odot}$, d$_{\rm GC}$) $\sim$ (145, 110) kpc, with modest uncertainties in these properties due to differences in the underlying stellar evolution models. The sparse sampling of stars above the turnoff and sub-giant branch are likely to be 1.0-1.4 M$_{\odot}$ binary star systems (blue stragglers) and their evolved descendants, as opposed to intermediate age main sequence stars. Confusion of these populations highlights a substantial challenge in accurately characterizing sparsely populated stellar systems. Our analysis shows that Crater is not a dwarf galaxy, but instead is an unusually young cluster given its location in the Milky Way's very outer stellar halo. Crater is similar to SMC cluster Lindsay 38, and its position and velocity are in good agreement with observations and models of the Magellanic stream debris, suggesting it may have accreted from the Magellanic Clouds. However, its age and metallicity are also in agreement with the age-metallicity relationships of lower mass dwarf galaxies such as Leo I or Carina. Despite uncertainty over its progenitor system, Crater appears to have been incorporated into the Galaxy more recently than $z\sim1$ (8 Gyr ago), providing an important new constraint on the accretion history of the Milky Way. [abridged]
    Preview · Article · Oct 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The Eastern Banded Structure (EBS) and Hydra~I halo overdensity are very nearby (d $\sim$ 10 kpc) objects discovered in SDSS data. Previous studies of the region have shown that EBS and Hydra I are spatially coincident, cold structures at the same distance, suggesting that Hydra I may be the EBS's progenitor. We combine new wide-field DECam imaging and MMT/Hectochelle spectroscopic observations of Hydra I with SDSS archival spectroscopic observations to quantify Hydra I's present-day chemodynamical properties, and to infer whether it originated as a star cluster or dwarf galaxy. While previous work using shallow SDSS imaging assumed a standard old, metal-poor stellar population, our deeper DECam imaging reveals that Hydra~I has a thin, well-defined main sequence turnoff of intermediate age ($\sim 5-6$ Gyr) and metallicity ([Fe/H] = $-0.9$ dex). We measure statistically significant spreads in both the iron and alpha-element abundances of $\sigma_{[Fe/H]} = 0.13 \pm 0.02$ dex and $\sigma_{[\alpha/{\rm Fe}]} = 0.09 \pm 0.03$ dex, respectively, and place upper limits on both the rotation and its proper motion. Hydra~I's intermediate age and [Fe/H] -- as well as its low [$\alpha$/Fe], apparent [Fe/H] spread, and present-day low luminosity -- suggest that its progenitor was a dwarf galaxy, which subsequently lost more than $99.99\%$ of its stellar mass.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    Uğur Ural · Mark I. Wilkinson · Justin I. Read · Matthew G. Walker
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    ABSTRACT: 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.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Nature Communications
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    ABSTRACT: We perform in-depth dynamical modelling of the luminous and dark matter (DM) content of the elliptical galaxy NGC 1407. Our strategy consists of solving the spherical Jeans equations for three independent dynamical tracers: stars, blue GCs and red GCs in a self-consistent manner. We adopt a maximum-likelihood Markov-Chain Monte Carlo fitting technique in the attempt to constrain the inner slope of the DM density profile (the cusp/core problem), and the stellar initial mass function (IMF) of the galaxy. We find the inner logarithmic slope of the DM density profiles to be $\gamma = 0.6\pm0.4$, which is consistent with either a DM cusp ($\gamma = 1$) or with a DM core $(\gamma = 0)$. Our findings are consistent with a Salpeter IMF, and marginally consistent with a Kroupa IMF. We infer tangential orbits for the blue GCs, and radial anisotropy for red GCs and stars. The modelling results are consistent with the virial mass--concentration relation predicted by $\Lambda$CDM simulations. The virial mass of NGC 1407 is $\log$ $M_{\rm vir} = 13.3 \pm 0.2 M_{\odot}$, whereas the stellar mass is $\log M_* = 11.8 \pm 0.1 M_{\odot}$. The overall uncertainties on the mass of NGC 1407 are only 5 per cent at the projected stellar effective radius. We attribute the disagreement between our results and previous X-ray results to the gas not being in hydrostatic equilibrium in the central regions of the galaxy. The halo of NGC 1407 is found be DM dominated, with a dynamical mass-to-light ratio of $M/L=260_{-100} ^{+174} M_{\odot}/L_{\odot, B}$. However, this value can be larger up to a factor of 3 depending on the assumed prior on the DM scale radius.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: The dwarf spheroidal galaxies (dSph) of the Milky Way are among the most attractive targets for indirect searches of dark matter. In this work, we reconstruct the dark matter annihilation (J-factor) and decay profiles for the newly discovered dSph Reticulum~II. This is done using an optimized spherical Jeans analysis of kinematic data obtained from the Michigan/Magellan Fiber System (M2FS). We find Reticulum~II to have one of the highest J-factor when compared to the other Milky Way dSphs. We have also checked the robustness of this result against several ingredients of the analysis. Unless it suffers from tidal disruption or significant inflation of its velocity dispersion from binary stars, Reticulum~II may provide a unique window on dark matter particle properties.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We present results from spectroscopic observations with the Michigan/Magellan Fiber System (M2FS) of 182 stellar targets along the line of sight to the newly-discovered `ultrafaint' object Reticulum 2 (Ret 2). For 38 of these targets, the spectra are sufficient to provide simultaneous estimates of line-of-sight velocity ($v_{\rm los}$, median random error $\delta_{v_{\rm los}}=1.3$ km s$^{-1}$), effective temperature ($T_{\rm eff}$, $\delta_{T_{\rm eff}}=464$ K), surface gravity ($\log g$, $\delta_{\rm logg}=0.54$ dex) and iron abundance ([Fe/H], $\delta_{\mathrm{[Fe/H]}}=0.45$ dex). We use these results to confirm 18 stars as members of Ret 2. From the member sample we estimate a velocity dispersion of $\sigma_{v_{\rm los}}=3.6_{-0.6}^{+0.9}$ km s$^{-1}$ about a mean of $\langle v_{\rm los}\rangle =64.8_{-1.0}^{+1.1}$ km s$^{-1}$ in the solar rest frame ($\sim -90.9$ km s$^{-1}$ in the Galactic rest frame), and a metallicity dispersion of $\sigma_{\rm [Fe/H]}=0.50_{-0.13}^{+0.17}$ dex about a mean of $\langle \mathrm{[Fe/H]} \rangle =-2.67_{-0.34}^{+0.34}$. These estimates marginalize over possible velocity and metallicity gradients, which are consistent with zero. Our results place Ret 2 on chemodynamical scaling relations followed by the Milky Way's dwarf-galactic satellites. Under assumptions of dynamic equilibrium and negligible contamination from binary stars---both of which must be checked with deeper imaging and repeat spectroscopic observations---the estimated velocity dispersion suggests a dynamical mass of $M(R_{\rm h})\approx 5R_{\rm h}\sigma_{v_{\rm los}}^2/(2G)=2.4_{-0.8}^{+1.3}\times 10^5$ $M_{\odot}$ enclosed within projected halflight radius $R_{\rm h}\sim 32$ pc, with mass-to-light ratio $\approx 2M(R_{\rm h})/L_{\rm V}=462_{-157}^{+264}$ in solar units.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2015 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    Matthew G. Walker · Edward W. Olszewski · Mario Mateo
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    ABSTRACT: 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.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: We present a search for gamma-ray emission from the direction of the newly discovered dwarf galaxy Reticulum 2. Using Fermi-LAT data, we detect a signal that exceeds expected backgrounds between ~2-10 GeV and is consistent with annihilation of dark matter for particle masses less than a few x 10^2 GeV. Modeling the background as a Poisson process based on Fermi-LAT diffuse models, and taking into account trials factors, we detect emission with p-value less than 9.8 x 10^-5 (>3.7 sigma). An alternative, model-independent treatment of background reduces the significance, raising the p-value to 9.7 x 10^-3 (2.3 sigma). Even in this case, however, Reticulum 2 has the most significant gamma-ray signal of any known dwarf galaxy. If Reticulum 2 has a dark matter halo that is similar to those inferred for other nearby dwarfs, the signal is consistent with the s-wave relic abundance cross section for annihilation.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Physical Review Letters
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    ABSTRACT: We present a new formalism designed to discover dark matter annihilation occurring in the Milky Way's dwarf galaxies. The statistical framework extracts all available information in the data by simultaneously combining observations of all the dwarf galaxies and incorporating the impact of particle physics properties, the distribution of dark matter in the dwarfs, and the detector response. The method performs maximally powerful frequentist searches and produces confidence limits on particle physics parameters. Probability distributions of test statistics under various hypotheses are constructed exactly, without relying on large sample approximations. The derived limits have proper coverage by construction and claims of detection are not biased by imperfect background modeling. We implement this formalism using data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope to search for an annihilation signal in the complete sample of Milky Way dwarfs whose dark matter distributions can be reliably determined. We find that the observed data is consistent with background for each of the dwarf galaxies individually as well as in a joint analysis. The strongest constraints are at small dark matter particle masses. Taking the median of the systematic uncertainty in dwarf density profiles, the cross section upper limits are below the pure s-wave weak scale relic abundance value (2.2 x 10^-26 cm^3/s) for dark matter masses below 26 GeV (for annihilation into b quarks), 29 GeV (tau leptons), 35 GeV (up, down, strange, charm quarks and gluons), 6 GeV (electrons/positrons), and 114 GeV (two-photon final state). For dark matter particle masses less than 1 TeV, these represent the strongest limits obtained to date using dwarf galaxies.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Physical Review D
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    Jorge Peñarrubia · Yin-Zhe Ma · Matthew G. Walker · Alan McConnachie
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    ABSTRACT: 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 Mpc. We find a Local Group (LG) mass 2.3 ± 0.7 × 1012 M⊙ that is consistent with the combined dynamical masses of M31 and the Milky Way, and a mass ratio $0.54^{+0.23}_{-0.17}$ that rules out models where our Galaxy is more massive than M31 with ∼95 per cent confidence. The Milky Way's circular velocity at the solar radius is relatively high, 245 ± 23 km s−1, which helps to reconcile the mass derived from the local Hubble flow with the larger value suggested by the ‘timing argument’. Adopting Planck's bounds on ΩΛ yields a (local) Hubble constant H0 = 67 ± 5 km s−1 Mpc−1 which is consistent with the value found on cosmological scales. Restricted N-body experiments show that substructures tend to fall on to 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.
    Preview · Article · May 2014 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    Matthew G. Walker · Abraham Loeb
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    ABSTRACT: In the standard cosmological model, the Universe consists mainly of two invisible substances: vacuum energy with mass density rho_v = Lambda /(8 pi G), and cold dark matter (CDM). This model has the virtue of simplicity, enabling straightforward calculation of the formation and evolution of cosmic structure against the backdrop of the Hubble flow. Here we discuss apparent discrepancies with observations on small galactic scales, which LCDM must attribute to complexity in the baryon physics of galaxy formation. Yet galaxies exhibit structural scaling relations that evoke simplicity, presenting a clear target for formation models. We use published data to examine the relationship between dynamical components of such relations. Tracers of gravitational potentials dominated by dark matter show a correlation between orbital size, R, and velocity, V, that can be expressed most simply as a characteristic acceleration, a_{DM} ~ 1 km^2/s^2/pc ~ 3 x 10^{-9} cm/s^2 ~ 0.2c(G rho_v)^{1/2}. It remains to be seen whether LCDM predicts such behavior.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Contemporary Physics
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    Chervin F. P. Laporte · Matthew G. Walker · Jorge Penarrubia
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    ABSTRACT: We generate stellar distribution functions (DFs) in triaxial haloes in order to examine the reliability of slopes Γ ≡ Δlog M/Δlog r inferred by applying mass estimators of the form M∝Reσ2 (i.e. assuming spherical symmetry, where Re and σ are luminous effective radius and global velocity dispersion, respectively) to two stellar subpopulations independently tracing the same gravitational potential. The DFs take the form 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 anticorrelation between Re and σ 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 towards greater overestimation of masses for more concentrated tracer populations. We demonstrate that simple mass estimates for two distinct tracer populations can give reliable lower limits for Γ, irrespective of the degree of triaxiality or shape of the tracer number density profile.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    Jesus Zavala · Mark Vogelsberger · Matthew G. Walker
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    ABSTRACT: Self-Interacting Dark Matter is an attractive alternative to the Cold Dark Matter paradigm only if it is able to substantially reduce the central densities of dwarf-size haloes while keeping the densities and shapes of cluster-size haloes within current constraints. Given the seemingly stringent nature of the latter, it was thought for nearly a decade that SIDM would be viable only if the cross section for self-scattering was strongly velocity-dependent. However, it has recently been suggested that a constant cross section per unit mass of sigma_T/m~0.1cm^2/g is sufficient to accomplish the desired effect. We explicitly investigate this claim using high resolution cosmological simulations of a Milky-Way size halo and find that, similarly to the Cold Dark Matter case, such cross section produces a population of massive subhaloes that is inconsistent with the kinematics of the classical dwarf spheroidals, in particular with the inferred slopes of the mass profiles of Fornax and Sculptor. This problem is resolved if sigma_T/m~1cm^2/g at the dwarf spheroidal scales. Since this value is likely inconsistent with the halo shapes of several clusters, our results leave only a small window open for a velocity-independent Self-Interacting Dark Matter model to work as a distinct alternative to Cold Dark Matter.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    Jorge Penarrubia · Sergey E. Koposov · Matthew G. Walker
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    ABSTRACT: We introduce the Minimum Entropy Method, a simple statistical technique for constraining the Milky Way gravitational potential and simultaneously testing different gravity theories directly from 6D phase-space surveys and without adopting dynamical models. We demonstrate that orbital energy distributions that are separable (i.e., independent of position) have an associated entropy that increases under wrong assumptions about the gravitational potential and/or gravity theory. Of known objects, 'cold' tidal streams from low-mass progenitors follow orbital distributions that most nearly satisfy the condition of separability. Although the orbits of tidally stripped stars are perturbed by the progenitor's self-gravity, systematic variations of the energy distribution can be quantified in terms of the cross-entropy of individual tails, giving further sensitivity to theoretical biases in the host potential. The feasibility of using the Minimum Entropy Method to test a wide range of gravity theories is illustrated by evolving restricted N-body models in a Newtonian potential and examining the changes in entropy introduced by Dirac, MONDian, and f(R) gravity modifications.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We calculate the energy that baryons must inject in cold dark matter (CDM) haloes in order to remove centrally-divergent DM cusps on scales relevant to observations of dwarf spheroidal galaxies (dSphs). We estimate that the CDM haloes often associated with the Milky Way's dSphs (M_vir/M_\odot \sim 10^{9-10}) require \Delta E/erg \sim 10^{53-55} in order to form cores on scales comparable to the luminous size of these galaxies. While supernova type II (SNeII) explosions can in principle generate this energy, the actual contribution is limited by the low star formation efficiency implied by the abundance of luminous satellites. Considering that CDM's well-known `core/cusp' and `missing satellite' problems place opposing demands on star formation efficiencies, existing observational evidences for large cores in the most luminous dSphs require that CDM models invoke some combination of the following: (i) efficient (of order unity) coupling of SNeII energy into dark matter particles, (ii) star formation histories peaking at unexpectedly high redshifts (z>6), (iii) a top-heavy stellar IMF, and/or (iv) substantial satellite disruption or other stochastic effects to ease the substructure abundance constraints. Our models show that the tension between CDM problems on small scales would increase if cored DM profiles were to be found in fainter dwarves.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · The Astrophysical Journal Letters
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    ABSTRACT: Kinematic surveys of the dwarf spheroidal (dSph) satellites of the Milky Way are revealing tantalizing hints about the structure of dark matter (DM) haloes at the low-mass end of the galaxy luminosity function. At the bright end, modelling of spiral galaxies has shown that their rotation curves are consistent with the hypothesis of a universal rotation curve whose shape is supported by a cored dark matter halo. In this paper, we investigate whether the internal kinematics of the Milky Way dSphs are consistent with the particular cored DM distributions which reproduce the properties of spiral galaxies. Although the DM densities in dSphs are typically almost two orders of magnitude higher than those found in (larger) disc systems, we find consistency between dSph kinematics and Burkert DM haloes whose core radii r0 and central densities ρ0 lie on the extrapolation of the scaling law seen in spiral galaxies: log ρ0≃α log r0+ const with 0.9 < α < 1.1. We similarly find that the dSph data are consistent with the relation between ρ0 and baryon scalelength seen in spiral galaxies. While the origin of these scaling relations is unclear, the finding that a single DM halo profile is consistent with kinematic data in galaxies of widely varying size, luminosity and Hubble type is important for our understanding of observed galaxies and must be accounted for in models of galaxy formation.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    Matthew G. Walker · Jorge Peñarrubia
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    ABSTRACT: We introduce a method for measuring the slopes of mass profiles within dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxies directly from stellar spectroscopic data and without adopting a dark matter halo model. Our method combines two recent results: 1) spherically symmetric, equilibrium Jeans models imply that the product of halflight radius and (squared) stellar velocity dispersion provides an estimate of the mass enclosed within the halflight radius of a dSph stellar component, and 2) some dSphs have chemo-dynamically distinct stellar \textit{sub}components that independently trace the same gravitational potential. We devise a statistical method that uses measurements of stellar positions, velocities and spectral indices to distinguish two dSph stellar subcomponents and to estimate their individual halflight radii and velocity dispersions. For a dSph with two detected stellar subcomponents, we obtain estimates of masses enclosed at two discrete points in the same mass profile, immediately defining a slope. Applied to published spectroscopic data, our method distinguishes stellar subcomponents in the Fornax and Sculptor dSphs, for which we measure slopes $\Gamma\equiv \Delta \log M / \Delta \log r=2.61_{-0.37}^{+0.43}$ and $\Gamma=2.95_{-0.39}^{+0.51}$, respectively. These values are consistent with 'cores' of constant density within the central few-hundred parsecs of each galaxy and rule out `cuspy' Navarro-Frenk-White (NFW) profiles ($d\log M/d\log r \leq 2$ at all radii) with significance $\ga 96%$ and $\ga 99%$, respectively. Tests with synthetic data indicate that our method tends systematically to overestimate the mass of the inner stellar subcomponent to a greater degree than that of the outer stellar subcomponent, and therefore to underestimate the slope $\Gamma$ (implying that the stated NFW exclusion levels are conservative).
    Preview · Article · Aug 2011 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We use analytical and N-body methods to examine the survival of wide stellar binaries against repeated encounters with dark substructures orbiting in the dark matter haloes of dwarf spheroidal galaxies (dSphs). Our models adopt cosmologically-motivated conditions wherein dSphs are dark-matter dominated systems that form hierarchically and orbit about a host galaxy. Our analytical estimates show that wide binaries are disrupted at a rate that is proportional to the local density of dark substructures averaged over the life-time of the binary population. The fact that external tides can efficiently strip dark substructures from the outskirts of dSphs implies that the present number and distribution of binaries is strongly coupled with the mass evolution of individual galaxies. Yet we show that for the range of dynamical masses and Galactocentric distances spanned by Milky Way dSphs, a truncation in the separation function at a_max <~ 0.1 pc is expected in all these galaxies. An exception may be the Sagittarius dSph, which has lost most of is dark matter envelope to tides and is close to full disruption. Our simulations indicate that at separations larger than a_max the perturbed binary distribution scales as dN/da \propto a^{-2.1} independently of the mass and density of substructures. These results may be used to determine whether the binary separation function found in dwarf galaxies is compatible with the scale-free hierarchical picture that envisions the existence of dark substructures in all galactic haloes. We show that the ACS camera on board of the Hubble telescope may be able to test this prediction in dSphs at heliocentric distances <100 kpc, even if the binary fraction amounts only 10% of the stellar population. Comment: 8 pages, 6 figures, submitted to MNRAS
    Full-text · Article · May 2010

Publication Stats

2k Citations
245.91 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2014-2015
    • Carnegie Mellon University
      • • Department of Physics
      • • Bruce and Astrid McWilliams Center for Cosmology
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2011-2013
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2008-2011
    • University of Cambridge
      • Institute of Astronomy
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2007-2008
    • University of Michigan
      • Department of Astronomy
      Ann Arbor, MI, United States