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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Marius Constantin Cautun

Cautun, Marius & Frenk, Carlos S. (2017). The tangential velocity excess of the Milky Way satellites. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters 468(1): L41-L45.

Author(s) from Durham


We estimate the systemic orbital kinematics of the Milky Way classical satellites and compare them with predictions from the Λ cold dark matter (ΛCDM) model derived from a semi-analytical galaxy formation model applied to high-resolution cosmological N-body simulations. We find that the Galactic satellite system is atypical of ΛCDM systems. The subset of 10 Galactic satellites with proper motion measurements has a velocity anisotropy, β = −2.2 ± 0.4, which lies in the 2.9 per cent tail of the ΛCDM distribution. Individually, the Milky Way satellites have radial velocities that are lower than expected for their proper motions, with 9 out of the 10 having at most 20 per cent of their orbital kinetic energy invested in radial motion. Such extreme values are expected in only 1.5 per cent of ΛCDM satellites systems. In the standard cosmological model, this tangential motion excess is unrelated to the existence of a Galactic ‘disc of satellites’. We present theoretical predictions for larger satellite samples that may become available as more proper motion measurements are obtained.