• methods: numerical;
  • galaxies: haloes;
  • cosmology: theory;
  • dark matter


We use the Millennium Simulation (MS) to study the statistics of Λ cold dark matter (ΛCDM) halo concentrations at z= 0. Our results confirm that the average halo concentration declines monotonically with mass; the concentration–mass relation is well fitted by a power law over three decades in mass, up to the most massive objects that form in a ΛCDM universe (∼ 1015 h−1 M). This is in clear disagreement with the predictions of the model proposed by Bullock et al. for these rare objects, and agrees better with the original predictions of Navarro, Frenk & White. The large volume surveyed, together with the unprecedented numerical resolution of the MS, allows us to estimate with confidence the distribution of concentrations and, consequently, the abundance of systems with unusual properties. About one in a hundred cluster haloes (M200≳ 3 × 1014 h−1 M) have concentrations exceeding c200= 7.5, a result that may be useful in interpreting the likelihood of unusually strong massive gravitational lenses, such as Abell 1689, in the ΛCDM cosmogony. A similar fraction of about 1 per cent of galaxy-sized haloes (M200∼ 1012 h−1 M) have c200 < 4.5 and this could be relevant to models that attempt to reconcile the ΛCDM cosmology with rotation curves of low surface brightness galaxies by appealing to haloes of unexpectedly low concentration. We find that halo concentrations are independent of spin once haloes manifestly out of equilibrium have been removed from the sample. Compared to their relaxed brethren, the concentrations of out-of-equilibrium haloes tend to be lower and have more scatter, while their spins tend to be higher. A number of previously noted trends within the halo population are induced primarily by these properties of unrelaxed systems. Finally, we compare the result of predicting halo concentrations using the mass assembly history of the main progenitor with predictions based on simple arguments regarding the assembly time of all progenitors. The latter are typically as good or better than the former, suggesting that halo concentration depends not only on the evolutionary path of a halo's main progenitor, but on how and when all of its constituents collapsed to form non-linear objects.