In classical loss cone theory, stars are supplied to a central black hole via gravitational scattering onto low angular momentum orbits. Higher feeding rates are possible if the gravitational potential near the black hole is non-axisymmetric and the orbits are chaotic. Motivated by recently published, self-consistent models, we evaluate rates of stellar capture and disruption in triaxial nuclei. Rates are found to substantially exceed those in collisionally-resupplied loss cones, as long as an appreciable fraction of the orbits are centrophilic. The mass captured by a black hole after a given time in a steep (ρ ∼ r−2) nucleus scales as σ5 with σ the stellar velocity dispersion, and the accumulated mass in 1010 yr is of the correct order to reproduce the M• − σ relation. Triaxiality can solve the “final parsec problem” of decaying black hole binaries by increasing the flux of stars into the binary’s loss cone.

Publication Date



Also archived in: arXiv:astro-ph/0302296 v2 13 Aug 2003 This work was supported by NSF grants AST 00-71099 and AST 02-0631, and by NASA grants NAG5-6037 and NAG5-9046. M.Y. Poon is grateful to the Croucher Foundation for a postdoctoralfellowship.ISSN:1538-4357 Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


RIT – Main Campus