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Contamination of stellar-kinematic samples and uncertainty about dark matter annihilation profiles in ultrafaint dwarf galaxies: the example of Segue I

Abstract : The expected gamma-ray flux coming from dark matter annihilation in dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxies depends on the so-called 'J-factor', the integral of the squared dark matter density along the line-of-sight. We examine the degree to which estimates of J are sensitive to contamination (by foreground Milky Way stars and stellar streams) of the stellar-kinematic samples that are used to infer dark matter densities in 'ultrafaint' dSphs. Applying standard kinematic analyses to hundreds of mock data sets that include varying levels of contamination, we find that mis-classified contaminants can cause J-factors to be overestimated by orders of magnitude. Stellar-kinematic data sets for which we obtain such biased estimates tend 1) to include relatively large fractions of stars with ambiguous membership status, and 2) to give estimates for J that are sensitive to specific choices about how to weight and/or to exclude stars with ambiguous status. Comparing publicly-available stellar-kinematic samples for the nearby dSphs Reticulum II and Segue I, we find that only the latter displays both of these characteristics. Estimates of Segue I's J-factor should therefore be regarded with a larger degree of caution when planning and interpreting gamma-ray observations.
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http://hal.in2p3.fr/in2p3-01170098
Contributor : Emmanuelle Vernay <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - 8:35:24 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, August 6, 2020 - 3:09:29 AM

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V. Bonnivard, D. Maurin, M. G. Walker. Contamination of stellar-kinematic samples and uncertainty about dark matter annihilation profiles in ultrafaint dwarf galaxies: the example of Segue I. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy P - Oxford Open Option A, 2016, 462 (1), pp.223-234. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stw1691⟩. ⟨in2p3-01170098⟩

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