Models of galaxies with central black holes: Simulation methods

Steinn Sigurdsson, Lars Hernquist, Gerald D. Quinlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We present a method for simulating numerically the effect of the adiabatic growth of black holes on the structure of elliptical galaxies. Using a parallel self-consistent field code, we add black holes to N-body realizations of model distribution functions for spherical galaxies, using a continuous mass spectrum. The variable particle mass, combined with a simple multiple time-step integration scheme, makes it possible to evolve the models for many dynamical times with N ∼ 106-108, allowing high spatial and mass resolution. This paper discusses verification of the code using analytic models for spherical galaxies, comparing our numerical results of the effect of central black holes on the structure of the galaxies with previously published models. The intrinsic and projected properties of the final particle distribution, including higher order moments of the velocity distribution, permit comparison with observed characteristics of real galaxies and constrain the masses of any central black holes present in those galaxies. Our technique is promising and is easily extended to axisymmetric and triaxial galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-85
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 10 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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