The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre

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Lurking in the Darkness: Intermediate Mass Black Holes in Low-Mass Galaxies

The Milky Way is surrounded by a swarm of tens of lower mass satellite galaxies, the properties of which challenge the predictions of supercomputer simulations of galaxy formation. In this project we focus on the so-called “Too Big To Fail” (TBTF) problem — the prediction that the most massive dark matter subhaloes, which should host satellite galaxies according to theoretical galaxy formation models, have central densities that are far greater than observed. We investigate how black holes in the cores of the progenitors of satellite galaxies can help to reconcile predictions with observations, by assessing the likelihood that the exchange of energy and angular momentum between the black hole and the underlying dark matter can reduce the central dark matter density. This is a potentially important effect not previously modelled in galaxy formation simulations.

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