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The distribution of dark matter in galaxies


The distribution of the non-luminous matter in galaxies of different luminosity and Hubble type is much more than a proof of the existence of dark particles governing the structures of the Universe. Here, we will review the complex but well-ordered scenario of the properties of the dark halos also in relation with those of the baryonic components they host. Moreover, we will present a number of tight and unexpected correlations between selected properties of the dark and the luminous matter. Such entanglement evolves across the varying properties of the luminous component and it seems to unequivocally lead to a dark particle able to interact with the Standard Model particles over cosmological times. This review will also focus on whether we need a paradigm shift, from pure collisionless dark particles emerging from “first principles”, to particles that we can discover only by looking to how they have designed the structure of the galaxies.

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  1. 1.

    Only much later the universality of the DM phenomenon in spirals did emerge (Persic et al. 1996).

  2. 2.

    We take \(R_{\mathrm{opt}}\equiv 3.2 \, R_D\) as the reference stellar disk edge.

  3. 3.

    The HI component is obtained directly from observations; however, it is always negligible because \(\mathrm{d}V^2_{\mathrm{HI}}/\mathrm{d}r\simeq 0\).

  4. 4.

    \(R_3\simeq 1.1 \ R_{1/2}\).

  5. 5.

    Notice that maximal disks are incompatible with cuspy DM halos (van Albada et al. 1985).

  6. 6.

    See also Lapi et al. (2018) for the analysis of 24 coadded RCs obtained from 3500 individual RCs.

  7. 7.

    We stress that only the RCs with \(190~\mathrm{km}/\mathrm{s}< V_{\mathrm{opt}} < 230~\mathrm{km}/\mathrm{s}\) and in the radial range \(1 \, R_D<R<4 \, R_D\) can be considered flattish.

  8. 8.

    In short: the variance of V(xL) is negligible, i.e., the r.m.s. of the values of the RCs in galaxies of same luminosity L and at the same radius x is negligible.

  9. 9.

    Let us stress that, in this issue, non circular motions in the RCs play a minor role (Oh 2008; Gentile et al. 2005).

  10. 10.

    The raw kinematical data needed to build the Galaxy RC can be found Pato and Iocco (2017), see Fig. 14.

  11. 11.

    SKA will exponentially increase the amount of available kinematics.

  12. 12.

    \(V(r)= (r ~\mathrm{d}\varPhi /\mathrm{d}r)^{1/2}\) with \(\varPhi \) the total gravitational potential.


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I thank Francesca Matteucci for motivating me towards the enterprise of writing this review. I thank N. Turini, V. Gammaldi, F. Nesti, M. Cobal, A. Bressan, M. Cappellari, G. Danese, A. Lapi, C. Frenk, C. Baccigalupi, A. Pillepich, M. F. de Laurentis, R. Valdarnini and C. di Paolo for very useful discussions. I thank Brigitte Greinoecker for help in the process of writing this review.

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Salucci, P. The distribution of dark matter in galaxies. Astron Astrophys Rev 27, 2 (2019).

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  • Dark matter
  • Galaxies
  • Cosmology
  • Elementary particles