Stellar Relaxation Processes Near the Galactic Massive Black Hole

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Alexander, Tal
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The massive black hole (MBH) in the Galactic Center and the stars around it form a unique stellar dynamics laboratory for studying how relaxation processes affect the distribution of stars and compact remnants and lead to close interactions between them and the MBH. Recent theoretical studies suggest that processes beyond "minimal" two-body relaxation may operate and even dominate relaxation and its consequences in the Galactic Center. I describe loss-cone refilling by massive perturbers, strong mass segregation and resonant relaxation; review observational evidence that these processes play a role in the Galactic Center; and discuss some cosmic implications for the rates of gravitational wave emission events from compact remnants inspiraling into MBHs, and the coalescence timescales of binary MBHs.
Comment: Invited talk. To appear in "2007 STScI spring symposium: Black Holes", eds, M. Livio & A. M. Koekemoer, Cambridge University Press, in press. 25 pages, 13 figures
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