I am a junior research group leader and habilitation fellow (roughly similar to fixed-term assistant professor in the US-system)[*] at the University of Tübingen, Germany, financed through the Margarete von Wrangell program of the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg.
Previously, I held a research fellowship with the European Space Agency (ESA) at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands (2017-2018). Prior to ESA, I was a postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge/Boston, MA, USA (2014-2016). I did my PhD at the Remeis Observatory, Bamberg and the Erlangen Centre for Astroparticle Physics (ECAP) and my diploma at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, both in Germany. For a full professional CV, please get in touch with me directly.
[*]If you are confused by the German system, here is the Wikipedia entry.
Research Interests & Publications
My main scientific interest are two of the most extreme environments in our universe: the vicinity of accreting black holes and neutron stars and the winds of the massive supergiant stars. To study them, I mainly use space-based observations of X-ray binaries, i.e., binary systems consisting of a compact object (black hole or neutron star) and a normal companion star. I am also developing analysis tools and contributing to the instrumentation for (space-based) X-ray telescopes.
To study black holes, I bring together different analysis techniques (especially spectral and timing domains and recently also polarization), different energy ranges and different mass scales with the goal is to understand the origin of (X-ray) emission and decipher the accretion geometry in the extreme relativistic regime. To probe the clumpy winds of O/B type companion stars, I use the radiation emitted in the vicinity of the compact objects to X-ray the variable wind; I study the structure and the composition of the winds with the goal to understand mass loss and thus also feedback from (super)giant stars.
I have a keen interest in the issues of women in nature sciences (during my PhD I have been women's representative of the physics department) and in the intersection of art, language+literature and science (I am member of the Erlangen Centre for Literature and Natural Science).
You can find my academic pulications on ADS.
- Athena team member: science working group 3.3 (end points of stellar evolution), calibration requirements validation
- NuSTAR team member: galactic binaries working group
- eROSITA working group member
- eXTP consortium member: working group 2 (strong field gravity)
- Theseus consortium member
Current group members
- Roberta Amato, PhD candidate, Tübingen + Palermo
- Camille Diez, PhD candidate, Tübingen
- Kalyani Mehta, undergraduate research student, Tübingen
- Fabio Ribbeni, Master student, Tübingen + Palermo
- Eric Schmengler, Zulassungsarbeit (teacher's thesis), Tübingen
Want to join us? Look below for a list of possible bachelor and master thesis projects. If you are interested in a PhD or postdoctodal position, please get directly in touch to discuss funding possibilities and grant applications.
Abschlussarbeiten // Thesis projects
Interested in writing a bachelor, master or teacher's thesis on neutron stars, black holes or the wind of most massive stars in our universe?
Interesse an einer Abschlussarbeit (Bachelor-, Master-, Zulassungsarbeit) über Neutronensterne, schwarze Löcher oder die Winde der massereichsten Sterne unserer Galaxie?
Here is a pdf with some possible topics for bachelor and master theses. Get in touch if you are interested - those are just some topics, there are more cool possibilities!
Previous teaching before current appointment in Tübingen includes: tutorials for Radiation Processes in Astrophysics, tutorials for Galaxies and Cosmology, undergraduate astronomy lab
Public Outreach: recent & highlights
- Upcoming - Ottobeuren [June 20]
- Upcoming - Tübingen [May 13]
- Upcoming - ESA/ESOC, Dortmund [March 26]
- Public lecture, Planetarium Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany: "Das Unsichtbare sichtbar machen: Röntgenbeobachtungen von schwarzen Löchern" [January 17]
- Public lecture, Mitgliederversammlung der Kepler Gesellschaft, Weil der Stadt, Germany: "Das Unsichtbare sichtbar machen: Röntgenbeobachtungen von schwarzen Löchern" [October 25]
- Public lecture, Science Pub, Tübingen, Germany: "Röntgenastronomie und schwarze Löcher" [May 21]
- Public lecture, Hochschule für Medien, Stuttgart, Germany: Science Day "Seeing Black holes through X-ray eyes" [November 12]
- Public lecture, Astroseminar Münster, Münster, Germany: "Das Unsichtbare sichtbar machen: Röntgenbeobachtungen von schwarzen Löchern" [October 26+27]
- Public lecture, super/collider, Los Angeles, USA: "Black Holes & Neutron Stars" [July 22]
- Talk, Astronomy on Tap, Leiden, The Netherlands: "Seeing Black holes through X-ray eyes" [June 25]
- Public lecture, super/collider, London, UK: "Looking for the invisible: observing black holes and neutron stars" [May 12]
- Talk & panel, Destination Star Trek Convention, Dortmund, Germany: "The ins & outs of black holes (no red matter involved!)" and "ESA Q&A" [April 28+29]
I have done an extensive numbers of public outreach and public speaking events (in both English and German) besides the most recent ones listed above, incuding further talks and lectures aimed at different audiences, lab tours, observatory open days, girls in STEM events, science festivals, etc. Listing them all is out of scope of this page - thus a few highlights:
MIT independent activity period (AIP), Cambridge, MA, USA, 2014-2016, "Looking for Black Holes"
Talks aimed at general MIT student and alumni community.
JGW summer school (Schülerakademie) 2012, Pappenburg, Germany: "Von der Gaswolke zum schwazen Loch: Vom Leben und Sterben der Sterne" / "From the Gas-Cloud to the Black Hole: Of Life and Death of Stars"
a 10-day intensive course on stellar evolution for gifted students in the last two school years Together with D.~Huppenkothen, I developed a detailed curriculum (~30 hours) for students without a background in astrophysics that included, among others, hand-ons sessions with data from Hubble Space Telescope and and and introduction to mathematical methods in physics. I supervised a group of 16 15-19-year old student for 10 days during the summer school as well as in weeks before and after the summer school during the preparations of the talks and the follow-up reports.
- Volkshochschule (roughly: community college) Bamberg, Germany, 2011-2013: "Astronomie für Fortgeschrittene" / "Advanced Astronomy"
developed the curriculum for and repeteadly held a 6-lecture-course on advanced astronomy topics (black holes, supernovae, cosmology, exoplanets, grand telescopes) for general public