The effect of warm dark matter on galaxy properties: Constraints from the stellar mass function and the tully-fisher relation

Xi Kang, Andrea V. MacCiò, Aaron A. Dutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this paper, we combine high-resolution N-body simulations with a semi-analytical model of galaxy formation to study the effects of a possible warm dark matter (WDM) component on the observable properties of galaxies. We compare three WDM models with a dark matter (DM) mass of 0.5, 0.75, and 2.0 keV with the standard cold dark matter case. For a fixed set of parameters describing the baryonic physics, the WDM models predict fewer galaxies at low (stellar) masses, as expected due to the suppression of power on small scales, while no substantial difference is found at the high-mass end. However, these differences in the stellar mass function vanish when a different set of parameters is used to describe the (largely unknown) galaxy formation processes. We show that it is possible to break this degeneracy between DM properties and the parameterization of baryonic physics by combining observations on the stellar mass function with the Tully-Fisher relation (the relation between stellar mass and the rotation velocity at large galactic radii as probed by resolved H I rotation curves). WDM models with a too warm candidate (m ν < 0.75 keV) cannot simultaneously reproduce the stellar mass function and the Tully-Fisher relation. We conclude that accurate measurements of the galaxy stellar mass function and the link between galaxies and DM halos down to the very low mass end can give very tight constraints on the nature of DM candidates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 10 2013



  • cosmology: theory
  • dark matter
  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: luminosity function, mass function
  • large-scale structure of universe
  • methods: analytical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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