Angular momentum transfer in dark matter halos: erasing the cusp


Tonini, C.; Lapi, A.; Salucci, P.


We propose that angular momentum transfer from the baryons to the dark matter (DM) during the early stages of galaxy formation can flatten the halo inner density profile and modify the halo dynamics. We compute the phase-space distribution function of DM halos that corresponds to the density and anisotropy profiles obtained from N-body simulations in the concordance cosmology. We then describe an injection of angular momentum into the halo by modifying the distribution function and show that the system evolves into a new equilibrium configuration; the latter features a constant central density and a tangentially dominated anisotropy profile in the inner regions, while the structure is nearly unchanged beyond 10% of the virial radius. Then we propose a toy model to account for such a halo evolution, based on the angular momentum exchange due to dynamical friction; at the epoch of galaxy formation this is efficiently exerted by the DM onto the gas clouds spiralling down the potential well. The comparison between the angular momentum profile gained by the halo through dynamical friction and that provided by the perturbed distribution function reveals a surprising similarity, hinting at the reliability of the process.

Publication year


Publication type

Journal article


Astrophysical Journal Letters, Vol. 649 (Oct 2006), pp. 591-598




Institute of Physics Publishing


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