Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 March 2013
Although the approximately flat rotation curves of gas in the outskirts of spirals are generally taken as strong evidence for spherical, isothermal dark matter halos, this conclusion is often incorrect and always model-dependent. A re-examination of the old and (nearly) model-independent inversion technique for determining the surface mass density of galaxies from their kinematics is presented. The method is shown to be relatively insensitive to noise in the kinematics. Due to incomplete kinematical knowledge at large radius, however, the surface mass density is reliable only in the inner half of the galaxy, a result that also applies to traditional rotation curve fitting techniques.
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