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For refcode 1998ApJ...494L.181M:
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1998ApJ...494L.181M Dynamical Constraints on Alternatives to Supermassive Black Holes in Galactic Nuclei EYAL MAOZ Astronomy Department, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 Received 1997 October 21; accepted 1997 December 12; published 1998 January 22 ABSTRACT The compelling dynamical evidence for massive dark objects in galactic nuclei does not uniquely imply massive black holes (BHs). To argue convincingly that these objects are BHs we must rule out alternatives to a BH, and the alternative to a point mass is a cluster of some sort of nonluminous objects, such as a cluster of brown dwarfs or stellar remnants. We use simple physical considerations to derive the maximum possible lifetime of a dark cluster that may consist of any plausible form of nonluminous gravitating objects-from brown dwarfs and very low mass objects of cosmic composition to white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. The lower this limit relative to the galaxy age, the more implausible the cluster hypothesis is, thus arguing for a point mass. A cluster with a lifetime much shorter than 10 Gyr is unacceptable, since observing it at the present epoch would be highly improbable. Since the goal is to rule out a dark cluster by showing that its lifetime must be very short, we make the most generous assumptions possible under the observational constraints to allow for its survival. We find that the lifetime of such a hypothetical cluster must be much shorter than the galaxy age only in the cases of NGC 4258 and our Galaxy, thus strongly arguing for a point mass. In all other galaxies, the case of a massive BH, although compelling, is not yet watertight. We also note that there are two exotic alternatives to a massive BH that cannot be ruled out even in the cases of NGC 4258 and the Galaxy: clusters of elementary particles (e.g., bosons), and clusters of very low mass (<0.04 M_sun_) BHs. We point out, however, serious difficulties with these alternatives, and argue that they are highly implausible. Subject headings: black hole physics-galaxies: kinematics and dynamics- galaxies: nuclei
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