NIHAO project II: Halo shape, phase-space density and velocity distribution of dark matter in galaxy formation simulations

Iryna Butsky, Andrea V. Macciò, Aaron A. Dutton, Liang Wang, Aura Obreja, Greg S. Stinson, Camilla Penzo, Xi Kang, Ben W. Keller, James Wadsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use the NIHAO (Numerical Investigation of Hundred Astrophysical Objects) cosmological simulations to study the effects of galaxy formation on key properties of dark matter (DM) haloes. NIHAO consists of ≈90 high-resolution smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations that include (metal-line) cooling, star formation, and feedback from massive stars and supernovae, and cover a wide stellar and halo mass range: 106 ≲ M*/M ≲ 1011(109.5 ≲ Mhalo/M ≲ 1012.5). When compared to DM-only simulations, the NIHAO haloes have similar shapes at the virial radius, Rvir, but are substantially rounder inside ≈0.1Rvir. In NIHAO simulations, c/a increases with halo mass and integrated star formation efficiency, reaching ~0.8 at the Milky Way mass (compared to 0.5 in DM-only), providing a plausible solution to the long-standing conflict between observations and DM-only simulations. The radial profile of the phase-space Q parameter (ρ/σ3) is best fit with a single power law in DM-only simulations, but shows a flattening within ≈0.1Rvir for NIHAO for total masses M > 1011M. Finally, the global velocity distribution of DMis similar in both DM-only and NIHAO simulations, but in the solar neighbourhood, NIHAO galaxies deviate substantially from Maxwellian. The distribution is more symmetric, roughly Gaussian, with a peak that shifts to higher velocities for Milky Way mass haloes. We provide the distribution parameters which can be used for predictions for direct DM detection experiments. Our results underline the ability of the galaxy formation processes to modify the properties of DM haloes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-680
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 11 2016


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: interactions
  • Galaxies: structure
  • Galaxy: disc
  • Galaxy: evolution
  • Galaxy: structure
  • Methods: numerical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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