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Dr Maxime Delorme


Scientific programmer

Academic and research departments

Astrophysics Research Group.

About

Research

Research projects

Publications

Imran Nasim, Alessia Gualandris, Justin Read, Walter Dehnen, Maxime Delorme, Fabio Antonini (2020)Defeating stochasticity: coalescence time-scales of massive black holes in galaxy mergers, In: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society497(1)pp. 739-746 Oxford Univ Press

The coalescence of massive black hole binaries (BHBs) in galactic mergers is the primary source of gravitational waves (GWs) at low frequencies. Current estimates of GW detection rates for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna and the Pulsar Timing Array vary by three orders of magnitude. To understand this variation, we simulate the merger of equal-mass, eccentric, galaxy pairs with central massive black holes and shallow inner density cusps. We model the formation and hardening of a central BHB using the fast multiple method as a force solver, which features a O(N) scaling with the number N of particles and obtains results equivalent to direct-summation simulations. At N similar to 5 x 10(5), typical for contemporary studies, the eccentricity of the BHBs can vary significantly for different random realizations of the same initial condition, resulting in a substantial variation of the merger time-scale. This scatter owes to the stochasticity of stellar encounters with the BHB and decreases with increasing N. We estimate that N similar to 10(7) within the stellar half-light radius suffices to reduce the scatter in the merger time-scale to similar to 10 per cent. Our results suggest that at least some of the uncertainty in low-frequency GW rates owes to insufficient numerical resolution.

Matthew D A Orkney, Justin I Read, Oscar Agertz, Andrew Pontzen, Martin P Rey, Alex Goater, Ethan Taylor, Stacy Y Kim, Maxime Delorme (2022)EDGE: the puzzling ellipticity of Eridanus II’s star cluster and its implications for dark matter at the heart of an ultra-faint dwarf, In: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society515(1)pp. 185-200 Oxford University Press

ABSTRACT The Eridanus II (EriII) ‘ultra-faint’ dwarf has a large (15 pc) and low-mass (4.3 × 103 M⊙) star cluster (SC) offset from its centre by 23 ± 3 pc in projection. Its size and offset are naturally explained if EriII has a central dark matter core, but such a core may be challenging to explain in a ΛCDM cosmology. In this paper, we revisit the survival and evolution of EriII’s SC, focusing for the first time on its puzzlingly large ellipticity ($0.31^{+0.05}_{-0.06}$). We perform a suite of 960 direct N-body simulations of SCs, orbiting within a range of spherical background potentials fit to ultra-faint dwarf (UFD) galaxy simulations. We find only two scenarios that come close to explaining EriII’s SC. In the first scenario, EriII has a low-density dark matter core (of size ${\sim}70\, \text{pc}$ and density $\lesssim 2\times 10^8\, \text{M}_{\odot }\, \text{kpc}^{-3}$). In this model, the high ellipticity of EriII’s SC is set at birth, with the lack of tidal forces in the core allowing its ellipticity to remain frozen for long times. In the second scenario, EriII’s SC orbits in a partial core, with its high ellipticity owing to its imminent tidal destruction. However, this latter model struggles to reproduce the large size of EriII’s SC, and it predicts substantial tidal tails around EriII’s SC that should have already been seen in the data. This leads us to favour the cored model. We discuss potential caveats to these findings, and the implications of the cored model for galaxy formation and the nature of dark matter.

Imran Tariq Nasim, Alessia Gualandris, Justin I Read, Fabio Antonini, Walter Dehnen, Maxime Delorme (2021)Formation of the largest galactic cores through binary scouring and gravitational wave recoil, In: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society502(4)pp. 4794-4814

Massive elliptical galaxies are typically observed to have central cores in their projected radial light profiles. Such cores have long been thought to form through ‘binary scouring’ as supermassive black holes (SMBHs), brought in through mergers, form a hard binary and eject stars from the galactic centre. However, the most massive cores, like the $\sim 3{\, \mathrm{kpc}}$ core in A2261-BCG, remain challenging to explain in this way. In this paper, we run a suite of dry galaxy merger simulations to explore three different scenarios for central core formation in massive elliptical galaxies: ‘binary scouring’, ‘tidal deposition’, and ‘gravitational wave (GW) induced recoil’. Using the griffin code, we self-consistently model the stars, dark matter, and SMBHs in our merging galaxies, following the SMBH dynamics through to the formation of a hard binary. We find that we can only explain the large surface brightness core of A2261-BCG with a combination of a major merger that produces a small $\sim 1{\, \mathrm{kpc}}$ core through binary scouring, followed by the subsequent GW recoil of its SMBH that acts to grow the core size. Key predictions of this scenario are an offset SMBH surrounded by a compact cluster of bound stars and a non-divergent central density profile. We show that the bright ‘knots’ observed in the core region of A2261-BCG are best explained as stalled perturbers resulting from minor mergers, though the brightest may also represent ejected SMBHs surrounded by a stellar cloak of bound stars.

Filippo Contenta, Eduardo Balbinot, James Petts, Justin Read, Mark Gieles, Michelle Collins, Jorge Peñarrubia, Maxime Delorme, Alessia Gualandris (2018)Probing dark matter with star clusters: a dark matter core in the ultra-faint dwarf Eridanus II, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press (OUP)

We present a new technique to probe the central dark matter (DM) density profile of galaxies that harnesses both the survival and observed properties of star clusters. As a first application, we apply our method to the `ultra-faint' dwarf Eridanus II (Eri II) that has a lone star cluster ~45 pc from its centre. Using a grid of collisional N-body simulations, incorporating the effects of stellar evolution, external tides and dynamical friction, we show that a DM core for Eri II naturally reproduces the size and the projected position of its star cluster. By contrast, a dense cusped galaxy requires the cluster to lie implausibly far from the centre of Eri II (>1 kpc), with a high inclination orbit that must be observed at a particular orbital phase. Our results imply that either a cold DM cusp was `heated up' at the centre of Eri II by bursty star formation, or we are seeing an evidence for physics beyond cold DM.

Janet Preston, Michelle L M Collins, Rodrigo A Ibata, Erik J Tollerud, R Michael Rich, Ana Bonaca, Alan W McConnachie, Dougal Mackey, Geraint F Lewis, Nicolas F Martin, Jorge Peñarrubia, Scott C Chapman, Maxime Delorme (2019)A Dwarf Disrupting - Andromeda XXVII and the North West Stream, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

We present a kinematic and spectroscopic analysis of 38 red giant branch stars, in 7 fields, spanning the dwarf spheroidal galaxy Andromeda XXVII and the upper segment of the North West Stream. Both features are located in the outer halo of the Andromeda galaxy at a projected radius of 50-80 kpc, with the stream extending for ∼3° on the sky. Our data is obtained as part of the PAndAS survey and enables us to confirm that Andromeda XXVII’s heliocentric distance is 827 ± 47 kpc and spectroscopic metallicity is -2.1+0.4−0.5⁠. We also re-derive Andromeda XXVII’s kinematic properties, measuring a systemic velocity = -526.1+10.0−11.0 kms−1 and a velocity dispersion that we find to be non-Gaussian but for which we derive a formal value of 27.0+2.2−3.9 kms−1. In the upper segment of the North West Stream we measure mean values for the metallicity = -1.8±0.4, systemic velocity = -519.4 ±4.0 kms−1 and velocity dispersion = 10.0±4.0 kms−1. We also detect a velocity gradient of 1.7±0.3 kms−1 kpc−1 on an infall trajectory towards M31. With a similar gradient, acting in the same direction, in the lower segment we suggest that the North West Stream is not a single structure. As the properties of the upper segment of the North West Stream and Andromeda XXVII are consistent within 90% confidence limits, it is likely that the two are related and plausible that Andromeda XXVII is the progenitor of this stream.

Alexandra L. Gregory, Michelle L. M. Collins, Denis Erkal, Erik Tollerud, Maxime Delorme, Lewis Hill, David J. Sand, Jay Strader, Beth Willman (2020)Uncovering the Orbit of the Hercules Dwarf Galaxy, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press (OUP)

We present new chemo{kinematics of the Hercules dwarf galaxy based on Keck II{ DEIMOS spectroscopy. Our 21 conrmed members, including 9 newly con- rmed members, have a systemic velocity of vHerc = 46:4 1:3 kms

Imran Nasim, Alessia Gualandris, Justin Read, Walter Dehnen, Maxime Delorme, Fabio Antonini (2020)Defeating stochasticity: coalescence timescales of massive black holes in galaxy mergers, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Oxford University Press

The coalescence of massive black hole binaries (BHBs) in galactic mergers is the primary source of gravitational waves (GWs) at low frequencies. Current estimates of GW detection rates for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna and the Pulsar Timing Array vary by three orders of magnitude. To understand this variation, we simulate the merger of equal-mass, eccentric, galaxy pairs with central massive black holes and shallow inner density cusps. We model the formation and hardening of a central BHB using the Fast Multiple Method as a force solver, which features a O¹Nº scaling with the number N of particles and obtains results equivalent to direct-summation simulations. At N 5105, typical for contemporary studies, the eccentricity of the BHBs can vary significantly for different random realisations of the same initial condition, resulting in a substantial variation of the merger timescale. This scatter owes to the stochasticity of stellar encounters with the BHB and decreases with increasing N. We estimate that N 107 within the stellar half-light radius suffices to reduce the scatter in the merger timescale to 10%. Our results suggest that at least some of the uncertainty in low-frequency GW rates owes to insufficient numerical resolution.

A Rojas-Nino, Justin Read, A Aguilar, Maxime Delorme (2016)An efficient positive potential-density pair expansion for modelling galaxies, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society459(3)pp. 3349-3355 Oxford University Press

We present a novel positive potential-density pair expansion for modelling galaxies, based on the Miyamoto–Nagai disc. By using three sets of such discs, each one of them aligned along each symmetry axis, we are able to reconstruct a broad range of potentials that correspond to density profiles from exponential discs to 3D power-law models with varying triaxiality (henceforth simply ‘twisted’ models). We increase the efficiency of our expansion by allowing the scalelength parameter of each disc to be negative. We show that, for suitable priors on the scalelength and scaleheight parameters, these ‘MNn discs’ (Miyamoto–Nagai negative) have just one negative density minimum. This allows us to ensure global positivity by demanding that the total density at the global minimum is positive. We find that at better than 10 per cent accuracy in our density reconstruction, we can represent a radial and vertical exponential disc over 0.1–10 scalelengths/scaleheights with four MNn discs; a Navarro, Frenk and White (NFW) profile over 0.1–10 scalelengths with four MNn discs; and a twisted triaxial NFW profile with three MNn discs per symmetry axis. Our expansion is efficient, fully analytic, and well suited to reproducing the density distribution and gravitational potential of galaxies from discs to ellipsoids.