The MIT Kavli Institute paves the way for new developments in space- & ground-based astrophysics. Our faculty, research staff, and students develop technology & instrumentation with a focus on an engineering and technical core.
Researchers at The Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research explore extreme and unusual phenomena found beyond the Earth including extrasolar planets, black holes, neutron stars, and distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies.
I am working at MIT as a research scientist as part of the Chandra X-ray Center. My research is centered on star formation and young stars and makes use of the Chandra X-ray satellite, the Hubble Space Telescope and other space and ground-based facilities. At MKI, I am responsible for MARX, a simulation program that is used to calibrate Chandra and to plan and analyze Chandra observations. Before I came to MIT in 2015, I was a Post-Doc at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for five years. Originally, I am from Germany where I obtained my undergraduate degree and my PhD from the University of Hamburg.
Stars form by gravitational collapse from large clouds of gas and dust. After the initial infall, the young stellar objects are surrounded by circumstellar disks, in which planets may form. Often, young stars also drive highly collimated jets into the surrounding medium. I want to understand how star, disk and jet interact by looking at the closest star forming regions in our galaxy. I started working in this field by simulating and observing the accretion shock, that forms when mass falls from the disk onto the star. The temperatures in this shock are so high, that it can be observed in the X-ray regime with Chandra and XMM-Newton. Today, I also study the variability of the inner disk, where the accretion funnel originates, by analyzing IR lightcurves; and I use Chandra, Hubble and Gemini to spatially resolve the jet as close as possible to the region where star, disk, and jet interact. In all my work, I try to combine observational data and theoretical modeling to gain as much insight as possible.