Is There Evidence for Flat Cores in the Halos of Dwarf Galaxies? The Case of NGC 3109 and NGC 6822 Academic Article uri icon

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  • Two well studied dwarf galaxies -- NGC 3109 and NGC 6822 -- present some of the strongest observational support for a flat core at the center of galactic dark matter (DM) halos. We use detailed cosmologically motivated numerical models to investigate the systematics and the accuracy of recovering parameters of the galaxies. Some of our models match the observed structure of the two galaxies remarkably well. Our analysis shows that the rotation curves of these two galaxies are instead quite compatible with their DM halos having steep cuspy density profiles. The rotation curves in our models are measured using standard observational techniques. The models reproduce the rotation curves of both galaxies, the disk surface brightness profiles as well as the profile of isophotal ellipticity and position angle. The models are centrally dominated by baryons; however, the dark matter component is globally dominant. The simulated disk mass is marginally consistent with a stellar mass-to-light ratio in agreement with the observed colors. We show that non-circular motions combined with gas pressure support and projection effects results in a large underestimation of the circular velocity in the central $\sim 1$ kpc region, creating the illusion of a constant density core. Although the systematic effects mentioned above are stronger in barred systems, they are also present in axisymetric disks. Our results strongly suggest that there is no contradiction between the observed rotation curves in dwarf galaxies and the cuspy central dark matter density profiles predicted by Cold Dark Matter models.


  • Valenzuela, Octavio
  • Rhee, George
  • Klypin, Anatoly
  • Governato, Fabio
  • Stinson, Gregory
  • Quinn, Thomas
  • Wadsley, James

publication date

  • March 10, 2007