Stirring N-body systems - II. Necessary conditions for the dark matter attractor

Jeremy A. Barber*, Hongsheng Zhao, Steen H. Hansen

*Corresponding author for this work

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We study the evolution of the phase space of collisionless N-body systems under repeated stirrings or perturbations, which has been shown to lead to a convergence towards a limited group of end states. This so-called attractor was previously shown to be independent of the initial system and environmental conditions. However, the fundamental reason for its appearance is still unclear. It has been suggested that the origin of the attractor may be either radial infall (RI), the radial orbit instability (ROI), or energy exchange which, for instance, happens during violent relaxation. Here, we examine the effects of a set of controlled perturbations, referred to as 'kicks', which act in addition to the standard collisionless dynamics by allowing pre-specified instantaneous perturbations in phase space. We first demonstrate that the attractor persists in the absence of RI and ROI by forcing the system to expand. We then consider radial velocity kicks in a rigid potential and isotropic velocity kicks, since there are no energy exchanges in these two recipes of kicks. We find that these kicks do not lead to the attractor, indicating that the energy exchange in a dynamic potential is indeed the physical mechanism responsible for the attractor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1044-1051
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • Methods: numerical
  • Galaxies: haloes
  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • Radial orbit instability
  • Space density profiles
  • Halos
  • Universal
  • Slope
  • Mergers


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