Dr. Sebastian VölkelJunior Scientist/Leibniz Fellow
The main focus of my research is on the characteristic oscillation modes of compact objects, such as neutron stars and black holes. Different compact objects have different spectra and similar to atom spectroscopy or seismic studies of Earth, one can potentially learn a lot about the objects from the knowledge and correct interpretation of their spectrum. While theoretical studies of gravitational wave emission have been investigated for a long time, observational access to gravitational waves is a recent and revolutionary progress in physics. My specific line of research is on the question about how the knowledge of characteristic oscillation modes can be used to reconstruct properties of the source, thus to solve the inverse problem. With further improvements of gravitational wave observatories, the spectroscopy of compact objects is in reach soon. Recently I have been working on using the shadow of black holes to test general relativity and studied rotating neutron stars from their characteristic oscillations.
I have obtained my PhD thesis in the Theoretical Astrophysics group at the University of Tübingen (TAT) in Germany under main supervision of Kostas D. Kokkotas in 2020 (submitted 2019). My thesis is about the gravitational wave spectrum of compact relativistic objects. My first postdoctoral position starting late 2019 was in the ERC group of Enrico Barausse at SISSA and IFPU in Trieste, Italy. Here I have extended my research profile to data analysis techniques and applied them to tests of general relativity using quasi-normal modes, as well as to information obtained from images of super massive black holes. I have also worked on constraining the nuclear equation of state from simulated oscillation spectra of neutron stars. Since September 2022 I am part of the Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity department of Alessandra Buonanno at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Potsdam, Germany.