Jason Pollack, David N. Spergel, Paul J. Steinhardt

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88 Scopus citations


We consider the cosmological consequences if a small fraction (f ≲ 0.1) of the dark matter is ultra-strongly self-interacting, with an elastic self-interaction cross section per unit mass σ 蠑 1cm2 g-1. This possibility evades all current constraints that assume that the self-interacting component makes up the majority of the dark matter. Nevertheless, even a small fraction of ultra-strongly self-interacting dark matter (uSIDM) can have observable consequences on astrophysical scales. In particular, the uSIDM subcomponent can undergo gravothermal collapse and form seed black holes in the center of a halo. These seed black holes, which form within several hundred halo interaction times, contain a few percent of the total uSIDM mass in the halo. For reasonable values of σf, these black holes can form at high enough redshifts to grow to ∼ 109 M⊙ quasars by z ≳ 6, alleviating tension within the standard Λ cold dark matter cosmology. The ubiquitous formation of central black holes in halos could also create cores in dwarf galaxies by ejecting matter during binary black hole mergers, potentially resolving the "too big to fail" problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number131
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 10 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Black hole physics
  • Dark matter
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: halos
  • Galaxies: structure


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