Sebastian Freund

"Initiated by the movie "Back to the Future", I became very much interested in physics and astronomy"

June 28, 2021

My name is Sebastian Freund and I am a PhD student at the Hamburg Observatory. Since my birth, I have a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder that causes a severe muscle loss. Hence, I am sitting in an electronic wheelchair and need a specialized care 24 hours a day. After graduating from school, I was looking for a profession that I can exercise mostly from my computer. Probably initiated by the movie "Back to the Future", I became very much interested in physics and astronomy since I was a child, and so I studied physics and specialized in astronomy.

In my diploma thesis, I worked on identification methods of stellar X-ray sources and thanks to the great support of my colleagues and my supervisor, I could continue with this research as a PhD student. The goal of my PhD project is to develop a method to identify all coronal stars that will be detected in the eROSITA all-sky survey with known completeness and reliability. With several hundreds of thousands of stars expected to be detected by eROSITA, this will be by far the largest sample of stellar X-ray sources ever obtained. With these data at hand, we can select specific stellar samples, e.g., in open clusters and stellar associations, and investigate their X-ray properties in a new and unprecedented way.

In 1999, I asked my parents to watch the total solar eclipse in southern Germany. So we started at 5 o’clock in the morning to drive more than 500 km to region where the total eclipse could be seen. I believe my parents thought it would be a very crazy idea to drive hundreds of kilometers just to watch an eclipse and they did not expect that other people might have the same crazy idea. So we ended up in the largest traffic jam I have ever seen. When the time of totality came, we were still on the highway with all parking lots filled. Against the warning continuously repeated on radio, all cars suddenly stopped on the hard shoulder of the highway and the people stepped out of their cars to watch the eclipse. Unfortunately, we were still slightly outside the region of totality so that we could not see the corona, the highlight of a total eclipse. Nevertheless, my parents were very impressed by the experience and thanked me afterwards for the great idea to visit the solar eclipse.

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