The extreme small scales: Do satellite galaxies trace dark matter?

Douglas F. Watson, Andreas A. Berlind, Cameron K. McBride, David W. Hogg, Tao Jiang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We investigate the radial distribution of galaxies within their host dark matter halos as measured in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey by modeling their small-scale clustering. Specifically, we model the Jiang et al. measurements of the galaxy two-point correlation function down to very small projected separations (10 h -1 kpc ≤ r ≤ 400 h -1 kpc), in a wide range of luminosity threshold samples (absolute r-band magnitudes of -18 up to -23). We use a halo occupation distribution framework with free parameters that specify both the number and spatial distribution of galaxies within their host dark matter halos. We assume one galaxy resides in the halo center and additional galaxies are considered satellites that follow a radial density profile similar to the dark matter Navarro-Frenk-White (NFW) profile, except that the concentration and inner slope are allowed to vary. We find that in low luminosity samples (Mr < -19.5 and lower), satellite galaxies have radial profiles that are consistent with NFW. Mr < -20 and brighter satellite galaxies have radial profiles with significantly steeper inner slopes than NFW (we find inner logarithmic slopes ranging from -1.6 to -2.1, as opposed to -1 for NFW). We define a useful metric of concentration, M 1/10, which is the fraction of satellite galaxies (or mass) that are enclosed within one-tenth of the virial radius of a halo. We find that M 1/10 for low-luminosity satellite galaxies agrees with NFW, whereas for luminous galaxies it is 2.5-4 times higher, demonstrating that these galaxies are substantially more centrally concentrated within their dark matter halos than the dark matter itself. Our results therefore suggest that the processes that govern the spatial distribution of galaxies, once they have merged into larger halos, must be luminosity dependent, such that luminous galaxies become poor tracers of the underlying dark matter.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number83
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Apr 10 2012


    • cosmology: theory
    • galaxies: fundamental parameters
    • large-scale structure of Universe
    • methods: statistical
    • surveys

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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