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    A variety of observational campaigns seek to test dark matter models by measuring dark matter subhaloes at low masses. Despite their predicted lack of stars, these subhaloes may be detectable through gravitational lensing or via their gravitational perturbations on stellar streams. To set measurable expectations for subhalo populations within Lambda cold dark matter, we examine 11 Milky Way (MW)-mass haloes from the FIRE-2 baryonic simulations, quantifying the counts and orbital fluxes for subhaloes with properties relevant to stellar stream interactions: masses down to $10^{6}\, \text{M}_\odot$, distances ≲50 kpc of the galactic centre, across z = 0 − 1 (tlookback = 0–8 Gyr). We provide fits to our results and their dependence on subhalo mass, distance, and lookback time, for use in (semi)analytical models. A typical MW-mass halo contains ≈16 subhaloes $\gt 10^{7}\, \text{M}_\odot$ (≈1 subhalo $\gt 10^{8}\, \text{M}_\odot$) within 50 kpc at z ≈ 0. We compare our results with dark matter-only versions of the same simulations: because they lack a central galaxy potential, they overpredict subhalo counts by 2–10×, more so at smaller distances. Subhalo counts around a given MW-mass galaxy declined over time, being ≈10× higher at z = 1 than at z ≈ 0. Subhaloes have nearly isotropic orbital velocity distributions at z ≈more »0. Across our simulations, we also identified 4 analogues of Large Magellanic Cloud satellite passages; these analogues enhance subhalo counts by 1.4–2.1 times, significantly increasing the expected subhalo population around the MW today. Our results imply an interaction rate of ∼5 per Gyr for a stream like GD-1, sufficient to make subhalo–stream interactions a promising method of measuring dark subhaloes.

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  2. Abstract

    We analyse stellar streams in action-angle coordinates combined with recent local direct acceleration measurements to provide joint constraints on the potential of our galaxy. Our stream analysis uses the Kullback–Leibler divergence with a likelihood analysis based on the two-point correlation function. We provide joint constraints from pulsar accelerations and stellar streams for local and global parameters that describe the potential of the Milky Way (MW). Our goal is to build an “acceleration ladder,” where direct acceleration measurements that are currently limited in dynamic range are combined with indirect techniques that can access a much larger volume of the MW. To constrain the MW potential with stellar streams, we consider the Palomar 5, Orphan, Nyx, Helmi, and GD1 streams. Of the potential models that we have considered here, the preferred potential for the streams is a two-component Staeckel potential. We also compare the vertical accelerations from stellar streams and pulsar timing, defining the functionf(z)=α1pulsarzΦz, where Φ is the MW potential determined from stellar streams andα1 pulsarzis the vertical acceleration determined from pulsar timing observations. Our analysis indicates that the Oort limit determined from streams is consistently (regardless of the choice of potential) lowermore »than that determined from pulsar timing observations. The calibration we have derived here may be used to correct the estimate of the acceleration from stellar streams.

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    The orbits of satellite galaxies encode rich information about their histories. We investigate the orbital dynamics and histories of satellite galaxies around Milky Way (MW)-mass host galaxies using the FIRE-2 cosmological simulations, which, as previous works have shown, produce satellite mass functions and spatial distributions that broadly agree with observations. We first examine trends in orbital dynamics at z = 0, including total velocity, specific angular momentum, and specific total energy: the time of infall into the MW-mass halo primarily determines these orbital properties. We then examine orbital histories, focusing on the lookback time of first infall into a host halo and pericentre distances, times, and counts. Roughly 37 per cent of galaxies with $M_{\rm star}\lesssim 10^7\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$ were ‘pre-processed’ as a satellite in a lower-mass group, typically $\approx 2.7\, {\rm Gyr}$ before falling into the MW-mass halo. Half of all satellites at z = 0 experienced multiple pericentres about their MW-mass host. Remarkably, for most (67 per cent) of these satellites, their most recent pericentre was not their minimum pericentre: the minimum typically was ∼40 per cent smaller and occurred $\sim 6\, {\rm Gyr}$ earlier. These satellites with growing pericentres appear to have multiple origins: formore »about half, their specific angular momentum gradually increased over time, while for the other half, most rapidly increased near their first apocentre, suggesting that a combination of a time-dependent MW-mass halo potential and dynamical perturbations in the outer halo caused these satellites’ pericentres to grow. Our results highlight the limitations of idealized, static orbit modelling, especially for pericentre histories.

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  4. Abstract

    In the Gaia era it is increasingly apparent that traditional static, parameterized models are insufficient to describe the mass distribution of our complex, dynamically evolving Milky Way (MW). In this work, we compare different time-evolving and time-independent representations of the gravitational potentials of simulated MW-mass galaxies from the FIRE-2 suite of cosmological-baryonic simulations. Using these potentials, we calculate actions for star particles in tidal streams around three galaxies with varying merger histories at each snapshot from 7 Gyr ago to the present day. We determine the action-space coherence preserved by each model using the Kullback–Leibler divergence to gauge the degree of clustering in actions and the relative stability of the clusters over time. We find that all models produce a clustered action space for simulations with no significant mergers. However, a massive (mass ratio prior to infall more similar than 1:8) interacting galaxy not present in the model will result in mischaracterized orbits for stars most affected by the interaction. The locations of the action space clusters (i.e., the orbits of the stream stars) are only preserved by the time-evolving model, while the time-independent models can lose significant amounts of information as soon as 0.5–1 Gyr ago, even ifmore »the system does not undergo a significant merger. Our results imply that reverse-integration of stream orbits in the MW using a fixed potential is likely to give incorrect results if integrated longer than 0.5 Gyr into the past.

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  5. ABSTRACT Increasingly, uncertainties in predictions from galaxy formation simulations (at sub-Milky Way masses) are dominated by uncertainties in stellar evolution inputs. In this paper, we present the full set of updates from the Feedback In Realistic Environment (FIRE)-2 version of the FIRE project code, to the next version, FIRE-3. While the transition from FIRE-1 to FIRE-2 focused on improving numerical methods, here we update the stellar evolution tracks used to determine stellar feedback inputs, e.g. stellar mass-loss (O/B and AGB), spectra (luminosities and ionization rates), and supernova rates (core-collapse and Ia), as well as detailed mass-dependent yields. We also update the low-temperature cooling and chemistry, to enable improved accuracy at $T \lesssim 10^{4}\,$K and densities $n\gg 1\, {\rm cm^{-3}}$, and the meta-galactic ionizing background. All of these synthesize newer empirical constraints on these quantities and updated stellar evolution and yield models from a number of groups, addressing different aspects of stellar evolution. To make the updated models as accessible as possible, we provide fitting functions for all of the relevant updated tracks, yields, etc, in a form specifically designed so they can be directly ‘plugged in’ to existing galaxy formation simulations. We also summarize the default FIRE-3 implementations of ‘optional’more »physics, including spectrally resolved cosmic rays and supermassive black hole growth and feedback.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 30, 2023

    Self-interacting dark matter (SIDM) models offer one way to reconcile inconsistencies between observations and predictions from collisionless cold dark matter (CDM) models on dwarf-galaxy scales. In order to incorporate the effects of both baryonic and SIDM interactions, we study a suite of cosmological-baryonic simulations of Milky-Way (MW)-mass galaxies from the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE-2) project where we vary the SIDM self-interaction cross-section σ/m. We compare the shape of the main dark matter (DM) halo at redshift z = 0 predicted by SIDM simulations (at σ/m = 0.1, 1, and 10 cm2 g−1) with CDM simulations using the same initial conditions. In the presence of baryonic feedback effects, we find that SIDM models do not produce the large differences in the inner structure of MW-mass galaxies predicted by SIDM-only models. However, we do find that the radius where the shape of the total mass distribution begins to differ from that of the stellar mass distribution is dependent on σ/m. This transition could potentially be used to set limits on the SIDM cross-section in the MW.

  7. Abstract In the era of large-scale spectroscopic surveys in the Local Group, we can explore using chemical abundances of halo stars to study the star formation and chemical enrichment histories of the dwarf galaxy progenitors of the Milky Way (MW) and M31 stellar halos. In this paper, we investigate using the chemical abundance ratio distributions (CARDs) of seven stellar halos from the Latte suite of FIRE-2 simulations. We attempt to infer galaxies’ assembly histories by modeling the CARDs of the stellar halos of the Latte galaxies as a linear combination of template CARDs from disrupted dwarfs, with different stellar masses M ⋆ and quenching times t 100 . We present a method for constructing these templates using present-day dwarf galaxies. For four of the seven Latte halos studied in this work, we recover the mass spectrum of accreted dwarfs to a precision of <10%. For the fraction of mass accreted as a function of t 100 , we find the residuals of 20%–30% for five of the seven simulations. We discuss the failure modes of this method, which arise from the diversity of star formation and chemical enrichment histories that dwarf galaxies can take. These failure cases can be robustlymore »identified by the high model residuals. Although the CARDs modeling method does not successfully infer the assembly histories in these cases, the CARDs of these disrupted dwarfs contain signatures of their unusual formation histories. Our results are promising for using CARDs to learn more about the histories of the progenitors of the MW and M31 stellar halos.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  8. Abstract

    We obtained Keck/DEIMOS spectra of 556 individual red giant branch stars in four spectroscopic fields spanning 13−31 projected kpc along the northeast (NE) shelf of M31. We present the first detection of a complete wedge pattern in the space of projected M31-centric radial distance versus line-of-sight velocity for this feature, which includes the returning stream component of the shelf. This wedge pattern agrees with expectations of a tidal shell formed in a radial merger and provides strong evidence in favor of predictions of Giant Stellar Stream (GSS) formation models in which the NE shelf originates from the second orbital wrap of the tidal debris. The observed concentric wedge patterns of the NE, west (W), and southeast (SE) shelves corroborate this interpretation independently of the models. We do not detect a kinematical signature in the NE shelf region corresponding to an intact progenitor core, favoring GSS formation models in which the progenitor is completely disrupted. The shelf’s photometric metallicity ([Fe/H]phot) distribution implies that it is dominated by tidal material, as opposed to the phase-mixed stellar halo or the disk. The metallicity distribution ([Fe/H]phot= −0.42 ± 0.01) also matches the GSS, and consequently the W and SE shelves, further supporting amore »direct physical association between the tidal features.

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  9. ABSTRACT One of the most promising tracers of the Galactic potential in the halo region is stellar streams. However, individual stream fits can be limited by systematic biases. To study these individual stream systematics, we fit streams in Milky Way-like galaxies from Feedback In Realistic Environments cosmological galaxy formation simulations with an analytical gravitational potential by maximizing the clustering of stream stars in action space. We show that for coherent streams the quality of the constraints depends on the orbital phase of the observed stream stars, despite the fact that the phase information is discarded in action-clustering methods. Streams on intermediate phases give the most accurate results, whereas pericentre streams can be highly biased. This behaviour is tied to the amount of correlation present between positions and momenta in each stream’s data: weak correlation in pericentre streams prohibits efficient differentiation between potentials, while strong correlation in intermediate streams promotes it. Although simultaneous fitting of multiple streams is generally prescribed as the remedy to combat individual stream biases, we find that combining multiple pericentric streams is not enough to yield a bias-free result. We finally show that adopting the two-component Stäckel model does not fundamentally induce a biased mass estimate. Withmore »our full data set of two multiwrap streams, we recovered the true rotation curve of the simulated galaxy within $12{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ over the entire range of radii covered by our set of stars (10–176 kpc) and within $6.5{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ between the 5 and 95 percentile distance range (23–109 kpc).« less
  10. ABSTRACT In the currently favoured cosmological paradigm galaxies form hierarchically through the accretion of satellites. Since a satellite is less massive than the host, its stars occupy a smaller volume in action space. Actions are conserved when the potential of the host halo changes adiabatically, so stars from an accreted satellite would remain clustered in action space as the host evolves. In this paper, we identify recently disrupted accreted satellites in three Milky Way-like disc galaxies from the cosmological baryonic FIRE-2 simulations by tracking satellites through simulation snapshots. We try to recover these satellites by applying the cluster analysis algorithm Enlink to the orbital actions of accreted star particles in the z = 0 snapshot. Even with completely error-free mock data we find that only 35 per cent (14/39) satellites are well recovered while the rest (25/39) are poorly recovered (i.e. either contaminated or split up). Most (10/14 ∼70 per cent) of the well-recovered satellites have infall times <7.1 Gyr ago and total mass >4 × 108M⊙ (stellar mass more than 1.2 × 106 M⊙, although our upper mass limit is likely to be resolution dependent). Since cosmological simulations predict that stellar haloes include a population of in situ stars, we test our ability to recover satellites when the datamore »include 10–50 per cent in situ contamination. We find that most previously well-recovered satellites stay well recovered even with 50 per cent contamination. With the wealth of 6D phase space data becoming available we expect that cluster analysis in action space will be useful in identifying the majority of recently accreted and moderately massive satellites in the Milky Way.« less