skip to main content

Title: Orientations of Dark Matter Halos in FIRE-2 Milky Way–mass Galaxies

The shape and orientation of dark matter (DM) halos are sensitive to the microphysics of the DM particles, yet in many mass models, the symmetry axes of the Milky Way’s DM halo are often assumed to be aligned with the symmetry axes of the stellar disk. This is well motivated for the inner DM halo, but not for the outer halo. We use zoomed-in cosmological baryonic simulations from the Latte suite of FIRE-2 Milky Way–mass galaxies to explore the evolution of the DM halo’s orientation with radius and time, with or without a major merger with a Large Magellanic Cloud analog, and when varying the DM model. In three of the four cold DM halos we examine, the orientation of the halo minor axis diverges from the stellar disk vector by more than 20° beyond about 30 galactocentric kpc, reaching a maximum of 30°–90°, depending on the individual halo’s formation history. In identical simulations using a model of self-interacting DM withσ= 1 cm2g−1, the halo remains aligned with the stellar disk out to ∼200–400 kpc. Interactions with massive satellites (M≳ 4 × 1010Mat pericenter;M≳ 3.3 × 1010Mat infall) affect the orientation of the halo significantly, aligning the halo’s major axis with the satellite galaxy from the disk to the virial radius. The relative orientation of the halo and disk beyond 30 kpc is a potential diagnostic of self-interacting DM, if the effects of massive satellites can be accounted for.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
2108962 1910346 1752913
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Medium: X Size: Article No. 44
["Article No. 44"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    We present the primary results from the Dragonfly Edge-on Galaxies Survey, an exploration of the stellar halos of twelve nearby (d< 25 Mpc) edge-on disk galaxies with the Dragonfly Telephoto Array. The edge-on orientation of these galaxies allows their stellar halos to be explored with minimal obscuration by or confusion with the much brighter disk light. Galaxies in the sample span a range of stellar masses from 109.68to 1010.88M. We confirm that the wide range of stellar halo mass fractions previously seen for Milky Way–mass galaxies is also found among less massive spiral galaxies. The scatter in stellar halo mass fraction is large, but we do find a significant positive correlation between stellar halo mass fraction and total stellar mass when the former is measured beyond five half-mass radii. Reasonably good agreement is found with predictions from cosmological hydrodynamical simulations, although observed stellar halo fractions appear to be somewhat lower than expected from these simulations.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The abundance of faint dwarf galaxies is determined by the underlying population of low-mass dark matter (DM) halos and the efficiency of galaxy formation in these systems. Here, we quantify potential galaxy formation and DM constraints from future dwarf satellite galaxy surveys. We generate satellite populations using a suite of Milky Way (MW)–mass cosmological zoom-in simulations and an empirical galaxy–halo connection model, and assess sensitivity to galaxy formation and DM signals when marginalizing over galaxy–halo connection uncertainties. We find that a survey of all satellites around one MW-mass host can constrain a galaxy formation cutoff at peak virial masses ofM50=108Mat the 1σlevel; however, a tail toward lowM50prevents a 2σmeasurement. In this scenario, combining hosts with differing bright satellite abundances significantly reduces uncertainties onM50at the 1σlevel, but the 2σtail toward lowM50persists. We project that observations of one (two) complete satellite populations can constrain warm DM models withmWDM≈ 10 keV (20 keV). Subhalo mass function (SHMF) suppression can be constrained to ≈70%, 60%, and 50% that in cold dark matter (CDM) at peak virial masses of 108, 109, and 1010M, respectively; SHMF enhancement constraints are weaker (≈20, 4, and 2 times that in CDM, respectively) due to galaxy–halo connection degeneracies. These results motivate searches for faint dwarf galaxies beyond the MW and indicate that ongoing missions like Euclid and upcoming facilities including the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will probe new galaxy formation and DM physics.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The CHIME/FRB project has detected hundreds of fast radio bursts (FRBs), providing an unparalleled population to statistically probe the foreground media that they illuminate. One such foreground medium is the ionized halo of the Milky Way (MW). We estimate the total Galactic electron column density from FRB dispersion measures (DMs) as a function of Galactic latitude using four different estimators, including ones that assume spherical symmetry of the ionized MW halo and ones that imply more latitudinal variation in density. Our observation-based constraints of the total Galactic DM contribution for ∣b∣ ≥ 30°, depending on the Galactic latitude and selected model, span 87.8–141 pc cm−3. This constraint implies upper limits on the MW halo DM contribution that range over 52–111 pc cm−3. We discuss the viability of various gas density profiles for the MW halo that have been used to estimate the halo’s contribution to DMs of extragalactic sources. Several models overestimate the DM contribution, especially when assuming higher halo gas masses (∼3.5 × 1012M). Some halo models predict a higher MW halo DM contribution than can be supported by our observations unless the effect of feedback is increased within them, highlighting the impact of feedback processes in galaxy formation.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    M64, often called the “Evil Eye” galaxy, is unique among local galaxies. Beyond its dramatic, dusty nucleus, it also hosts an outer gas disk that counter-rotates relative to its stars. The mass of this outer disk is comparable to the gas content of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), prompting the idea that it was likely accreted in a recent minor merger. Yet, detailed follow-up studies of M64's outer disk have shown no evidence of such an event, leading to other interpretations, such as a “flyby” interaction with the distant diffuse satellite Coma P. We present Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam observations of M64's stellar halo, which resolve its stellar populations and reveal a spectacular radial shell feature, oriented ∼30° relative to the major axis and along the rotation axis of the outer gas disk. The shell is ∼45 kpc southeast of M64, while a similar but more diffuse plume to the northwest extends to >100 kpc. We estimate a stellar mass and metallicity for the southern shell ofM= 1.80 ± 0.54 × 108Mand [M/H] = −1.0, respectively, and a similar mass of 1.42 ± 0.71 × 108Mfor the northern plume. Taking into account the accreted material in M64's inner disk, we estimate a total stellar mass for the progenitor satellite ofM⋆,prog≃ 5 × 108M. These results suggest that M64 is in the final stages of a minor merger with a gas-rich satellite strikingly similar to the SMC, in which M64's accreted counter-rotating gas originated, and which is responsible for the formation of its dusty inner star-forming disk.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract Several lines of evidence suggest that the Milky Way underwent a major merger at z ∼ 2 with the Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus (GSE) galaxy. Here we use H3 Survey data to argue that GSE entered the Galaxy on a retrograde orbit based on a population of highly retrograde stars with chemistry similar to the largely radial GSE debris. We present the first tailored N -body simulations of the merger. From a grid of ≈500 simulations we find that a GSE with M ⋆ = 5 × 10 8 M ⊙ , M DM = 2 × 10 11 M ⊙ best matches the H3 data. This simulation shows that the retrograde stars are stripped from GSE’s outer disk early in the merger. Despite being selected purely on angular momenta and radial distributions, this simulation reproduces and explains the following phenomena: (i) the triaxial shape of the inner halo, whose major axis is at ≈35° to the plane and connects GSE’s apocenters; (ii) the Hercules-Aquila Cloud and the Virgo Overdensity, which arise due to apocenter pileup; and (iii) the 2 Gyr lag between the quenching of GSE and the truncation of the age distribution of the in situ halo, which tracks the lag between the first and final GSE pericenters. We make the following predictions: (i) the inner halo has a “double-break” density profile with breaks at both ≈15–18 kpc and 30 kpc, coincident with the GSE apocenters; and (ii) the outer halo has retrograde streams awaiting discovery at >30 kpc that contain ≈10% of GSE’s stars. The retrograde (radial) GSE debris originates from its outer (inner) disk—exploiting this trend, we reconstruct the stellar metallicity gradient of GSE (−0.04 ± 0.01 dex r 50 − 1 ). These simulations imply that GSE delivered ≈20% of the Milky Way’s present-day dark matter and ≈50% of its stellar halo. 
    more » « less