Presentation #502.04 in the session Galaxy Dynamics 3: Milky Way and Friends.
In order to backward integrate the orbits of Milky Way (MW) dwarf galaxies, much effort has been invested in recent years to constrain their initial phase-space coordinates. Yet equally important are the assumptions on the potential that the dwarf galaxies experience over time, especially given the fact that the MW is currently accreting the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). In this work, using a dark-matter-only zoom-in simulation, we test whether the use of common parametric forms of the potential is adequate to successfully backward integrate the orbits of the subhaloes from their present-day positions. We parametrize the recovered orbits and compare them with those from the simulations. We find that simple symmetric parametric forms of the potential fail to capture the complexities and the inhomogeneities of the true potential experienced by the subhaloes. More specifically, modelling a recent massive accretion like that of the LMC as a sum of two spherical parametric potentials leads to substantial errors in the recovered parameters of the orbits. These errors rival those caused due to (a) a 30 per cent uncertainty in the virial mass of the MW and (b) not modelling the potential of the recently accreted massive satellite. Our work suggests that (i) the uncertainties in the parameters of the recovered orbits of some MW dwarfs may be underestimated and that (ii) researchers should characterize the uncertainties inherent to their choice of integration techniques and assumptions of the potential against cosmological zoom-in simulations of the MW, which include a recently accreted LMC.