Probing dark matter with star clusters: a dark matter core in the ultra-faint dwarf Eridanus II

Filippo Contenta, Eduardo Balbinot, James A. Petts, Justin I. Read, Mark Gieles, Michelle L. M. Collins, Jorge Peñarrubia, Maxime Delorme, Alessia Gualandris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We present a new technique to probe the central dark matter (DM) density profile of galaxies that harnesses both the survival and observed properties of star clusters. As a first application, we apply our method to the `ultra-faint' dwarf Eridanus II (Eri II) that has a lone star cluster ~45 pc from its centre. Using a grid of collisional $N$-body simulations, incorporating the effects of stellar evolution, external tides and dynamical friction, we show that a DM core for Eri II naturally reproduces the size, radial light profile and projected position of its star cluster. By contrast, a dense cusped galaxy requires the cluster to lie implausibly far from the centre of Eri II (>1 kpc), with a high inclination orbit that must be observed at a particular orbital phase. Our results imply that either a cold DM cusp was `heated up' at the centre of Eri II by bursty star formation, or we are seeing the first unambiguous evidence for physics beyond cold DM.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2018

Keywords

  • Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies

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