Our understanding of the motions of stars within our Milky Way and of the many small galaxies that orbit around it has changed dramatically over the past few years owing to new observational surveys and significant advancements in our understanding of galaxy structure. Specifically, new surveys now enable us to precisely measure the motions of objects that orbit our Galaxy, like clusters of stars, satellite galaxies and stellar streams. The motions of these objects trace the so-called “dark matter” distribution, the unseen material that is expected to exist within and around our Galaxy, making up the bulk of its mass. Excitingly, we may be able to hunt for perturbations in the dark matter distribution owing to the motions of massive satellite galaxies, like the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). These perturbations will cause dark matter particles in the Solar Neighborhood to reach the local escape speed, with interesting consequences to direct detection experiments. I will provide an overview of this evolving picture and how we can use such data to test the cold dark matter paradigm in the near future using next-generation instruments and simulations.
Speaker: Gurtina Besla, Univ. of Arizona
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