The evolution of cuspy triaxial galaxies harboring central black holes

Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, J. Christopher Mihos, Steinn Sigurdsson, Lars Hernquist, Colin Norman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


We use numerical simulations to study the evolution of triaxial elliptical galaxies with central black holes. In contrast to earlier studies which used galaxy models with central density "cores," our galaxies have steep central cusps, as observed in real ellipticals. As a black hole grows in these cuspy triaxial galaxies, the inner regions become rounder owing to chaos induced in the orbital families that populate the model. At larger radii, however, the models maintain their triaxiality, and orbital analyses show that centrophilic orbits there resist stochasticity over many dynamical times. While black hole-induced evolution is strong in the inner regions of these galaxies and reaches out beyond the nominal "sphere of influence" of a black hole, our simulations do not show evidence for a rapid global transformation of the host. The triaxiality of observed elliptical galaxies is therefore not inconsistent with the presence of supermassive black holes at their centers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)817-827
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Mar 10 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The evolution of cuspy triaxial galaxies harboring central black holes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this