David Merritt


Recent work on the dynamics of triaxial stellar systems is reviewed. The motion of boxlike orbits in realistic triaxial potentials is generically stochastic. The degree to which the stochasticity manifests itself in the dynamics depends on the chaotic mixing timescale, which is a small multiple of the crossing time in triaxial models with steep cusps or massive central singularities. Low-luminosity ellipticals, which have the steepest cusps and the shortest dynamical times, are less likely than bright ellipticals to have strongly triaxial shapes. The observational evidence for triaxiality is reviewed; departures from axisymmetry in earlytype galaxies are often found to be associated with evidence of recent interactions or with the presence of a bar.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



Astronomical Society of the Pacific 116 (1997) 32 "The Nature of Elliptical Galaxies," Proceedings of the Second Stromlo Symposium. Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series. Held at the Australian Academy of Science: Canberra, Australia: 26-30 August 1996||Also archived in: arXiv:astro-ph/9611082 v1 11 Nov 1996 AND Rutgers Astrophysics Preprint Series No. 204 ISBN: 1-88673-336-8Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


RIT – Main Campus