Universal gravothermal evolution of isolated self-interacting dark matter halos for velocity-dependent cross sections
We study the evolution of isolated self-interacting dark matter (SIDM) halos using spherically-symmetric gravothermal equations allowing for the scattering cross section to be velocity dependent. We focus our attention on the large class of models where the core is in the long mean free path regime for a substantial time. We find that the temporal evolution exhibits an approximate universality that allows velocity-dependent models to be mapped onto velocity-independent models in a well-defined way using the scattering timescale computed when the halo achieves its minimum central density. We show how this timescale depends on the halo parameters and an average cross section computed at the central velocity dispersion when the central density is minimum. The predicted collapse time is fully defined by the scattering timescale, with negligible variation due to the velocity dependence of the cross section. We derive new self-similar solutions that provide an analytic understanding of the numerical results.