We propose a novel method utilizing stellar kinematic data to detect low-mass substructure in the Milky Way’s dark matter halo. By probing characteristic wakes that a passing dark matter subhalo leaves in the phase space distribution of ambient halo stars, we estimate sensitivities down to subhalo masses $\sim 10^7\,M_\odot$ or below. The detection of such subhalos would have implications for dark-matter and cosmological models that predict modifications to the halo-mass function at low halo masses. We develop an analytic formalism for describing the perturbed stellar phase-space distributions, and we demonstrate through simulations the ability to detect subhalos using the phase-space model and a likelihood framework. Our method complements existing methods for low-mass subhalo searches, such as searches for gaps in stellar streams, in that we can localize the positions and velocities of the subhalos today.
M. Buschmann, J. Kopp, B. Safdi, et. al.
Mon, 13 Nov 17
Comments: 6 + 3 pages, 1 + 2 figures, code available at: this https URL