David Merritt


Supermassive black holes inhabit galactic nuclei, and their presence influences in crucial ways the evolution of the stellar distribution. The low-density cores observed in bright galaxies are probably a result of black hole infall, while steep density cusps like those at the Galactic center are a result of energy exchange between stars moving in the gravitational field of the single black hole. Loss-cone dynamics are substantially more complex in galactic nuclei than in collisionally-relaxed systems like globular clusters due to the wider variety of possible geometries and orbital populations. The rate of star-black hole interactions has begun to be constrained through observations of energetic events associated with stellar tidal disruptions.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



Memorie della Societa Astronomica Italiana 77 (2006) 750-759 Also archived in: arXiv:astro-ph/0602353 v2 Feb 17 2006 Note: 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