The distribution of stars around a massive black hole

Stuart L. Shapiro, Alan P. Lightman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The stellar density distribution around a massive black hole at the centre of a spherical star cluster is determined from a simple scaling argument. The distribution is obtained by examining the net diffusion timescales associated with star and energy transport in a spherical, N-body system in dynamic equilibrium. The same analysis is also used to determine the stellar density profile in the halo of a star cluster. The approximate distribution obtained here for a relaxed, N-body system with (or without) a central, massive black hole agrees qualitatively with the results of detailed numerical calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-745
Number of pages3
Issue number5571
StatePublished - 1976
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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