Galaxy halo expansions: a new biorthogonal family of potential-density pairs

20 Jun 2018

Efficient expansions of the gravitational field of (dark) haloes have two main uses in the modelling of galaxies: first, they provide a compact representation of numerically-constructed (or real) cosmological haloes, incorporating the effects of triaxiality, lopsidedness or other distortion. Secondly, they provide the basis functions for self-consistent field expansion algorithms used in the evolution of $N$-body systems. We present a new family of biorthogonal potential-density pairs constructed using the Hankel transform of the Laguerre polynomials. The lowest-order density basis functions are double-power-law profiles cusped like $\rho \sim r^{-2 + 1/\alpha}$ at small radii with asymptotic density fall-off like $\rho \sim r^{-3 -1/(2\alpha)}$. Here, $\alpha$ is a parameter satisfying $\alpha \ge 1/2$. The family therefore spans the range of inner density cusps found in numerical simulations, but has much shallower -- and hence more realistic -- outer slopes than the corresponding members of the only previously-known family deduced by Zhao (1996) and exemplified by Hernquist & Ostriker (1992). When $\alpha =1$, the lowest-order density profile has an inner density cusp of $\rho \sim r^{-1}$ and an outer density slope of $\rho \sim r^{-3.5}$, similar to the famous Navarro, Frenk & White (1997) model. For this reason, we demonstrate that our new expansion provides a more accurate representation of flattened NFW haloes than the competing Hernquist-Ostriker expansion. We utilize our new expansion by analysing a suite of numerically-constructed haloes and providing the distributions of the expansion coefficients.