Philipp Podsiadlowski

3. August 2023

Klaus Tschira Guest Professor, May, October – December 2023

Outside his office window lies the lush, spring green part of the HITS garden, with redwoods, copper beeches and maples. “I’ve been here several times, but now I am happy to spend a longer time in this stimulating atmosphere”, says Philipp Podsiadlowski, an astrophysicist with a record of three decades in star evolution research and former professor at the University of Oxford. “And this program is more organized than in other places I have been before because the dynamics come from the host”, the native German says. He arrived at HITS at the beginning of May, as one of the two Klaus Tschira Guest Professors in 2023 (see “HITSters”).

Since 2022, the Klaus Tschira Guest Professorship Program aims to enhance international exchange and scientific collaboration at HITS. Internationally renowned scientists are invited for sabbaticals or extended research stays. They collaborate with scientists at HITS, develop joint research projects, and engage with the wider scientific community at the institute and in the Heidelberg region.

Philipp Podsiadlowski is spending his stay to refresh long-standing collaborations with the SET group led by Fabian Schneider and the PSO group led by Friedrich Röpke. “We have several ongoing projects and started new ones since I have arrived”, he says. His main focus now is on how massive stars “die” and on the so-called common envelope evolution of binary star systemsan important problem in astrophysics that is still poorly understood.  “Moreover, I am working with SET researchers Eva Laplace and Vincent Bronner in a new project on different types of Supernovae that could be connected to the same progenitor.” 

In May, Podsiadlowski gave a talk at the HITS colloquium on how stars end their lives , met researchers from other groupsand had conversations over lunch with HITS Scientific Director Tilmann Gneiting. He has split his stay in two parts, leaving in June to spend some time for scientific meetings and workshops in the UK, the U.S., and Germany. He will return to HITS in October, when he will visit other institutes in Heidelberg and give a colloquium at the University.

“I want to understand the physics of stars and the ‘cold cases’ of astronomy, problems that have not been solved for decades”, he says. “With more compute power, we have the chance to deal with these problems, and computational research like that performed at HITS is very valuable for my goals.”
Meanwhile our own star, the Sun, has bathed the garden in a silvery light. “This Institute allows scientists to grow and build up strong groups”, he resumes. “It´s a great place to do research.”

(From the HITS Newsletter “The Charts”, issue 2-2023)

About HITS

HITS, the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, was established in 2010 by physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural, mathematical, and computer sciences. Major research directions include complex simulations across scales, making sense of data, and enabling science via computational research. Application areas range from molecular biology to astrophysics. An essential characteristic of the Institute is interdisciplinarity, implemented in numerous cross-group and cross-disciplinary projects. The base funding of HITS is provided by the Klaus Tschira Foundation.

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