David Merritt


Also archived in: arXiv:astro-ph/9803211 v1 18 Mar 1998 AND Rutgers Astrophysics Preprint Series No. 231 Supermassive black holes containing ~0.5% of the stellar mass of their host galaxies appear to be ubiquitous components of galactic nuclei. The gravitational force from these central singularities can influence the motion of stars far outside the nucleus in non-axisymmetric, i.e. barred or triaxial, galaxies. Here, recent work concerning the influence of nuclear black holes on the large-scale structure of their host galaxies is reviewed. A number of studies point to a critical ratio of black hole mass to bulge mass, Mh/Mg, at which the black hole induces a transition to axisymmetry in the shape of the surrounding bulge or bar. This critical ratio is close to the maximum value of Mh/Mg observed in real galaxies, suggesting that black hole masses may be limited by a feedback mechanism that cuts off the supply of fuel to the nucleus once the central object grows sufficiently large.

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This work was supported by NSF grants AST 93-18617 and AST 96-17088 and by NASA grant NAG 5-2803. I thank E. Athanassoula, J. Barnes, F. Combes, D. Friedli, C. Joseph, S. McGaugh, A. Quillen, J. Sellwood and M. Valluri for useful discussions and for comments on the manuscript. 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