Creating a galaxy lacking dark matter in a dark matter-dominated universe

Andrea V. Macciò, Daniel Huterer Prats, Keri L. Dixon, Tobias Buck, Stefan Waterval, Nikhil Arora, Stéphane Courteau, Xi Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use hydrodynamical cosmological simulations to show that it is possible to create, via tidal interactions, galaxies lacking dark matter (DM) in a DM-dominated universe. We select dwarf galaxies from the NIHAO project, obtained in the standard cold dark matter model and use them as initial conditions for simulations of satellite-central interactions. After just one pericentric passage on an orbit with a strong radial component, NIHAO dwarf galaxies can lose up to 80 per cent of their DM content, but, most interestingly, their central (≈8 kpc) DM-to-stellar mass ratio changes from a value of ∼25, as expected from numerical simulations and abundance matching techniques, to roughly unity as reported for NGC 1052-DF2 and NGC 1054-DF4. The stellar velocity dispersion drops from ∼30 kms-1 before infall to values as low as 6 ± 2 kms-1. These, and the half-light radius around 3 kpc, are in good agreement with observations from van Dokkum and collaborators. Our study shows that it is possible to create a galaxy without DM starting from typical dwarf galaxies formed in a DM-dominated universe, provided they live in a dense environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-700
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • cosmology: Theory
  • dark matter
  • galaxies: Formation
  • galaxies: Kinematics and dynamics
  • methods: Numerical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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