SIDM on FIRE: Hydrodynamical Self-Interacting Dark Matter simulations of low-mass dwarf galaxies

Robles et al., available on arXiv.

Abstract: We compare a suite of four simulated dwarf galaxies formed in 10^10 Msun haloes of collisionless Cold Dark Matter (CDM) with galaxies simulated in the same haloes with an identical galaxy formation model but a non-zero cross-section for dark matter self-interactions. These cosmological zoom-in simulations are part of the Feedback In Realistic Environments (FIRE) project and utilize the FIRE-2 model for hydrodynamics and galaxy formation physics. We find the stellar masses of the galaxies formed in Self-Interacting Dark Matter (SIDM) with sigma/m = 1 cm^2/g are very similar to those in CDM (spanning Mstar ~ 10^(5.7 – 7.0) Msun) and all runs lie on a similar stellar mass-size relation. The logarithmic dark matter density slope (alpha=d(log rho)/d(log r)) in the central 250-500 pc remains steeper than alpha=-0.8 for the CDM-Hydro simulations with stellar mass Mstar~10^6.6 Msun and core-like in the most massive galaxy. In contrast, every SIDM hydrodynamic simulation yields a flatter profile, with alpha>-0.4. Moreover, the central density profiles predicted in SIDM runs without baryons are similar to the SIDM runs that include FIRE-2 baryonic physics. Thus, SIDM appears to be much more robust to the inclusion of (potentially uncertain) baryonic physics than CDM on this mass scale, suggesting SIDM will be easier to falsify than CDM using low-mass galaxies. Our FIRE simulations predict that galaxies less massive than Mstar < 3x10^6 Msun provide potentially ideal targets for discriminating models, with SIDM producing substantial cores in such tiny galaxies and CDM producing cusps.