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.
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.