The Birth of AGNs and Quasars via the Collapse of Dense Star Clusters to Supermassive Black Holes

  • Stuart L. Shapiro
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 121)


We consider the fate of a dense cluster of compact stars — neutron stars or stellar-mass black holes — embedded in the nucleus of an active galaxy. The combined effects of two-body dynamical relaxation (the “gravothermal catastrophe”) and star-star collisions and coalescence can drive such a cluster to a relativistic state in a Hubble time. When the core becomes sufficiently relativistic, the cluster inevitably undergoes catastrophic gravitational collapse to a supermassive black hole. This process leads naturally to the birth of supermassive black holes of the “right size” to explain quasars and AGNs: 106 ≲ M/M ≲ 109.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart L. Shapiro
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Radiophysics and Space ResearchCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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