Probing the Shape of the Galactic Halo with Hyper-Velocity Stars
Do they need a SMBH to sling shot them or would smaller masses do?Precise proper motion measurements (sigma_mu ~ 10 mkas/yr) of the recently discovered hyper-velocity star (HVS) SDSS J090745.0+024507 would yield significant constraints on the axis ratios and orientation of a triaxial model for the Galactic halo. Triaxiality of dark matter halos is predicted by Cold Dark Matter models of galaxy formation and may be used to probe the nature of dark matter. However, unless the distance to this star is determined to better than 10%, these constraints suffer from one-dimensional degeneracies, which we quantify. We show how proper motion measurements of several HVSs could simultaneously resolve the distance degeneracies of all such stars and produce a detailed picture of the triaxial halo. Additional HVSs may be found from radial velocity surveys or from parallax/proper-motion data derived from GAIA. High-precision proper-motion measurements of these stars using the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM PlanetQuest) would substantially tighten the constraints they yield on the Galactic potential.