David Merritt


David Roy Merritt (born November 16, 1955 in Los Angeles) is an American astrophysicist. Until 2017 he was a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. He received in 1982 his PhD in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University with thesis advisor Jeremiah P. Ostriker[1] and held postdoctoral positions at the University of California, Berkeley and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto. Merritt's fields of specialization include dynamics and evolution of galaxies, supermassive black holes, and computational astrophysics.

Merritt is a former Chair of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society. He is a founding member of the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation at RIT.

His scientific contributions include Osipkov–Merritt models,[2] black hole spin flips,[3] the Leonard–Merritt mass estimator,[4] the M–sigma relation,[5] stellar systems with negative temperatures, [6] and the Schwarzschild Barrier.[7]

Awards and honorsEdit

  • PROSE Award for Excellence in Physical Sciences and Mathematics, for A Philosophical Approach to MOND (2021)
  • Garfinkel Lectureship, Yale University (2014)

Works by MerrittEdit


  • Merritt, D. Dynamics and Evolution of Galactic Nuclei (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 551 pp., 2013
  • Merritt, D. A Philosophical Approach to MOND (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 282 pp., 2020
  • Parusniková, Z. and Merritt, D. (Eds.) Karl Popper's Science and Philosophy (Berlin: Springer International Publishing), 383 pp., 2021

Popular articlesEdit

  • Merritt, D. (2021). A Non-Standard Model. Aeon, July 2021.
  • Ferrarese, L. and Merritt, D. (2002). Supermassive Black Holes. Physics World, June 2002, p. 41.

Philosophical articlesEdit

  • Merritt, D. (2021). Cosmological Realism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, August 2021, p. 193-208.
  • Merritt, D. (2021). Feyerabend's Rule and Dark Matter. Synthese, August 2021.


  • Schwarzschild Barrier

External linksEdit

  • David Merritt's homepage
  • H-index for David Merritt
  • "Dark Matter", interview on National Public Radio (8/4/2014)


  1. ^ "David Merritt". Physics Tree.
  2. ^ Merritt, David (1985). "Spherical Stellar Systems with Spheroidal Velocity Distributions". The Astronomical Journal. 90: 1027–1037. Bibcode:1985AJ.....90.1027M. doi:10.1086/113810.
  3. ^ Merritt, David; Ekers, Ron (2002). "Tracing Black Hole Mergers through Radio Lobe Morphology". Science. 297 (5585): 1310–1313. arXiv:astro-ph/0208001. Bibcode:2002Sci...297.1310M. doi:10.1126/science.1074688. PMID 12154199. S2CID 1582420.
  4. ^ Leonard, Peter; Merritt, David (1989). "The Mass of the Open Star Cluster M35 as Derived from Proper Motions". The Astrophysical Journal. 339: 195–208. Bibcode:1989ApJ...339..195L. doi:10.1086/167287.
  5. ^ Ferrarese, Laura; Merritt, David (2000). "A Fundamental Relation between Supermassive Black Holes and Their Host Galaxies". The Astrophysical Journal. 539 (1): L9–L12. arXiv:astro-ph/0006053. Bibcode:2000ApJ...539L...9F. doi:10.1086/312838. S2CID 6508110.
  6. ^ Merritt, David; Tremaine, Scott; Johnstone, Doug (1989). "Models of Violently Relaxed Galaxies". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 236 (4): 829–841. Bibcode:1989MNRAS.236..829M. doi:10.1093/mnras/236.4.829.
  7. ^ Merritt, David (2015). "Gravitational Encounters and the Evolution of Galactic Nuclei. IV. Captures Mediated by Gravitational-wave Energy Loss". The Astrophysical Journal. 814 (1): 57–69. arXiv:1511.08169. Bibcode:2015ApJ...814...57M. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/814/1/57. S2CID 55489594.