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Title: The central dark matter distribution of NGC 2976
Authors: Joshua J. Adams, Karl Gebhardt, Guillermo A. Blanc, Maximilian H. Fabricius, Gary J. Hill, Jeremy D. Murphy, Remco C. E. van den Bosch, Glenn van de Ven

We study the mass distribution in the late-type dwarf galaxy NGC 2976 through stellar kinematics obtained with the VIRUS-P integral-field spectrograph and anisotropic Jeans models as a test of cosmological simulations and baryonic processes that putatively alter small-scale structure. Previous measurements of the H-alpha emission-line kinematics have determined that the dark matter halo of NGC 2976 is most consistent with a cored density profile. We find that the stellar kinematics are best fit with a cuspy halo. Cored dark matter halo fits are only consistent with the stellar kinematics if the stellar mass-to-light ratio is significantly larger than that derived from stellar population synthesis, while the best-fitting cuspy model has no such conflict. The inferred mass distribution from a harmonic decomposition of the gaseous kinematics is inconsistent with that of the stellar kinematics. This difference is likely due to the gas disk not meeting the assumptions that underlie the analysis such as no pressure support, a constant kinematic axis, and planar orbits. By relaxing some of these assumptions, in particular the form of the kinematic axis with radius, the gas-derived solution can be made consistent with the stellar kinematic models. A strong kinematic twist in the gas of NGC 2976's center suggests caution, and we advance the mass model based on the stellar kinematics as more reliable. The analysis of this first galaxy shows promising evidence that dark matter halos in late-type dwarfs may in fact be more consistent with cuspy dark matter distributions than earlier work has claimed.

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Galaxies throughout the universe are ablaze with star birth. But for a nearby, small spiral galaxy, the star-making party is almost over.
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Hubble Catches End of Star-Making Party in Nearby Dwarf Galaxy

Galaxies throughout the universe are ablaze with star birth. But for a nearby, small spiral galaxy, the star-making party is almost over. Astronomers were surprised to find that star-formation activities in the outer regions of NGC 2976 have been virtually asleep because they shut down millions of years ago. The celebration is confined to a few die-hard partygoers huddled in the galaxy's inner region. The explanation, astronomers say, is that a raucous interaction with the neighbouring M81 group of galaxies ignited star birth in NGC 2976. Now the star-making fun is beginning to end. Images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope show that star formation in the galaxy began fizzling out in its outskirts about 500 million years ago as some of the gas was stripped away and the rest collapsed toward the center. With no gas left to fuel the party, more and more regions of the galaxy are taking a much-needed nap. The star-making region is now confined to about 5,000 light-years around the core.
NGC 2976 does not look like a typical spiral galaxy, as this Hubble image shows. In this view of the oddball galaxy's inner region, there are no obvious spiral arms. Dusty filaments running through the disk show no clear spiral structure. Although the gas is centrally concentrated, the galaxy does not have a central bulge of stars. Astronomers pieced together the galaxy's star-formation story with the help of Hubble's sharp vision. The galaxy's relatively close distance to Earth allowed Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) to resolve hundreds of thousands of individual stars. What look like grains of sand in the image are actually individual stars. Studying the individual stars allowed astronomers to determine their colour and brightness, which provided information about when they formed. The astronomers combined the Hubble results with a map, made from radio observations, showing the current distribution of hydrogen across the galaxy. By analysing the combined data, the Hubble research team then reconstructed the star-making history for large areas of the galaxy. The Hubble observations are part of the ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey Treasury (ANGST) program. The map is part of The HI Nearby Galaxy Survey by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array in New Mexico. The blue dots are fledgling blue giant stars residing in the remaining active star-birth regions. NGC 2976 resides on the fringe of the M81 group of galaxies, located about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major.

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Part of the M81 group, NGC 2976, located 1 20' southwest of M81, is an unbarred spiral galaxy. The inner structure contains many dark lanes and stellar condensations in its disk.
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