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Dark matter self-interactions from the internal dynamics of dwarf spheroidals

Abstract

Dwarf spheroidal galaxies provide well-known challenges to the standard cold and collisionless dark matter scenario1,2: the too-big-to-fail problem (namely the mismatch between the observed mass enclosed within their half-light radius3,4 and cold dark matter N-body predictions5,6) and the hints for inner constant-density cores7,8,9,10. While these controversies may be alleviated by baryonic physics and environmental effects11,12,13,14,15, revisiting the standard lore of cold and collisionless dark matter remains an intriguing possibility. Self-interacting dark matter16,17 may be the successful proposal to such a small-scale crisis18,19. Self-interactions correlate dark matter and baryon distributions, allowing for constant-density cores in low-surface-brightness galaxies20,21,22,23. Here, we perform a data-driven study of the too-big-to-fail problem of Milky Way dwarf spheroidals within the self-interacting dark matter paradigm. We find a good description of their stellar kinematics and compatibility with the concentration–mass relation from the pure cold dark matter simulation in ref. 24. Within this concentration–mass relation, a subset of Milky Way dwarfs are well fitted by cross-sections of 0.5–3.0 cm2 g−1, while others point to values greater than 10 cm2 g−1.

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Fig. 1: Line-of-sight velocity dispersion profiles for the classical dwarf satellites from the joint fit of the stellar kinematics and the CDM concentration–mass relation.
Fig. 2: Circular velocity profiles obtained from the Bayesian analysis of the seven-parameter SIDM model.
Fig. 3: Posterior PDF for the SIDM cross-section probed by classical dwarf spheroidals according to the concentration–mass relation from ref. 24.

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Acknowledgements

M.V. acknowledges support from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007–2013)/ERC grant agreement 279972 ‘NPFlavour’. H.-B.Y. acknowledges support from the US Department of Energy under grant number de-sc0008541 and the Hellman Fellows Fund. M.V. and H.-B.Y. are grateful to M. Walker for the binned kinematic dataset adopted in the analysis. They also acknowledge P. Creasey, M. Kaplinghat, M. Petač, L. Sales and P. Ullio for useful discussions, and thank organizers and participants of the stimulating workshops ‘Self-Interacting Dark Matter’ (Niels Bohr Institute) and ‘WIMPs vs non-WIMPs in dwarf spheroidal galaxies’ (University of Turin).

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M.V. performed the required analytical computations and numerical analysis. The original idea of the study is attributed to H.-B.Y., who supervised the work. Both M.V. and H.B.Y. contributed to writing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Mauro Valli.

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Valli, M., Yu, HB. Dark matter self-interactions from the internal dynamics of dwarf spheroidals. Nat Astron 2, 907–912 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-018-0560-7

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