J. Wilms

Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany

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Publications (622)1112.8 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: As part of the TANAMI multiwavelength progam, we discuss new X-ray observations of the $\gamma$-ray and radio-loud Narrow Line Seyfert galaxy ($\gamma$-NLS1) PKS 2004-447. The active galaxy is a member of a small sample of radio-loud NLS1s detected in $\gamma$-rays by the Fermi Large Area Telescope. It is the radio-loudest and only southern-hemisphere source in this sample. We present results from our X-ray monitoring program comprised of Swift snapshot observations from 2012 through 2014 and two new X-ray observations with XMM-Newton in 2012. We analyze the X-ray spectrum and variability of this peculiar source using supplementary archival data from 2004 and 2011. The (0.5-10) keV spectrum is well described by a flat power law, which can be interpreted as non-thermal emission from a relativistic jet. The source exhibits moderate flux variability on timescales of both months and years. Correlated brightness variations in the (0.5-2) keV and (2-10) keV bands are explained by a single variable spectral component, such as the jet. A possible soft excess seen in the data from 2004 cannot be confirmed by the new \xmm{} observations in 2012. Any contribution to the total flux in 2004 is less than $20\%$ of the power-law component. The (0.5-10) keV luminosities of PKS 2004-447 are in the range of (0.5--2.7)$\times10^{44}\,\mathrm{erg\,s}^{-1}$. A comparison of the X-ray properties among the known $\gamma$-NLS1 galaxies shows that X-ray spectrum is typically dominated by a flat power law without intrinsic absorption. These objects are moderately variable in their brightness, while spectral variability is observed in at least two sources. The major difference across the X-ray spectra of $\gamma$-NLS1s is the luminosity, which spans a range of almost two orders of magnitude, from $10^{44}\,\mathrm{erg\,s}^{-1}$ to $10^{46}\,\mathrm{erg\,s}^{-1}$ in the (0.5-10) keV band.
  • The Astrophysical Journal 09/2015; 810(2):102. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/810/2/102 · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The nearby active galaxy IC 310, located in the outskirts of the Perseus cluster of galaxies is a bright and variable multi-wavelength emitter from the radio regime up to very high gamma-ray energies above 100 GeV. Originally, the nucleus of IC 310 has been classified as a radio galaxy. However, studies of the multi-wavelength emission showed several properties similarly to those found from blazars as well as radio galaxies. In late 2012, we have organized the first contemporaneous multi-wavelength campaign including radio, optical, X-ray and gamma-ray instruments. During this campaign an exceptionally bright flare of IC 310 was detected with the MAGIC telescopes in November 2012 reaching an averaged flux level in the night of up to one Crab above 1 TeV with a hard spectrum over two decades in energy. The intra-night light curve showed a series of strong outbursts with flux-doubling time scales as fast as a few minutes. The fast variability constrains the size of the gamma-ray emission regime to be smaller than 20% of the gravitational radius of its central black hole. This challenges the shock acceleration models, commonly used to explain gamma-ray radiation from active galaxies. Here, we will present more details on the MAGIC data and discuss several possible alternative emission models.
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    ABSTRACT: The morphology of the circumnuclear gas accreting onto supermassive black holes in Seyfert galaxies remains a topic of much debate. As the innermost regions of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are spatially unresolved, X-ray spectroscopy, and in particular line-of-sight absorption variability, is a key diagnostic to map out the distribution of gas. Observations of variable X-ray absorption in multiple Seyferts and over a wide range of timescales indicate the presence of clumps/clouds of gas within the circumnuclear material. Eclipse events by clumps transiting the line of sight allow us to explore the properties of the clumps over a wide range of radial distances from the optical/UV Broad Line Region (BLR) to beyond the dust sublimation radius. Time-resolved absorption events have been extremely rare so far, but suggest a range of density profiles across Seyferts. We resolve a weeks-long absorption event in the Seyfert NGC 3227. We examine six Suzaku and twelve Swift observations from a 2008 campaign spanning 5 weeks. We use a model accounting for the complex spectral interplay of three differently-ionized absorbers. We perform time-resolved spectroscopy to discern the absorption variability behavior. We also examine the IR-to-X-ray spectral energy distribution (SED) to test for reddening by dust. The 2008 absorption event is due to moderately-ionized ($\log \xi\sim 1.2-1.4$) gas covering 90% of the line of sight. We resolve the density profile to be highly irregular, in contrast to a previous symmetric and centrally-peaked event mapped with RXTE in the same object. The UV data do not show significant reddening, suggesting that the cloud is dust-free. The 2008 campaign has revealed a transit by a filamentary, moderately-ionized cloud of variable density that is likely located in the BLR, and possibly part of a disk wind.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 08/2015; DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201526790 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: High-energy neutrinos could be produced in the interaction of charged cosmic rays with matter or radiation surrounding astrophysical sources. Even with the recent detection of extraterrestrial high-energy neutrinos by the IceCube experiment, no astrophysical neutrino source has yet been discovered. Transient sources, such as gamma-ray bursts, core-collapse supernovae, or active galactic nuclei are promising candidates. Multi-messenger programs offer a unique opportunity to detect these transient sources. By combining the information provided by the ANTARES neutrino telescope with information coming from other observatories, the probability of detecting a source is enhanced, allowing the possibility of identifying a neutrino progenitor from a single detected event. A method based on optical and X-ray follow-ups of high-energy neutrino alerts has been developed within the ANTARES collaboration. This program, denoted as TAToO, triggers a network of robotic optical telescopes (TAROT and ROTSE) and the Swift-XRT with a delay of only a few seconds after a neutrino detection, and is therefore well-suited to search for fast transient sources. To identify an optical or X-ray counterpart to a neutrino signal, the images provided by the follow-up observations are analysed with dedicated pipelines. A total of 42 alerts with optical and 7 alerts with X-ray images taken with a maximum delay of 24 hours after the neutrino trigger have been analysed. No optical or X-ray counterparts associated to the neutrino triggers have been found, and upper limits on transient source magnitudes have been derived. The probability to reject the gamma-ray burst origin hypothesis has been computed for each alert.
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    ABSTRACT: After 25 years of quiescence, the microquasar V404 Cyg entered a new period of activity in June 2015. This X-ray source is known to undergo extremely bright and variable outbursts seen at all wavelengths. It is therefore an object of prime interest to understand the accretion-ejection connections. These can, however, only be probed through simultaneous observations at several wavelengths. We made use of the INTEGRAL instruments to obtain long, almost uninterrupted observations from the optical V-band, up to the soft gamma-rays. V404 Cyg was extremely variable in all bands, with the detection of 18 flares with fluxes exceeding 6 Crab (20-40 keV) within 3 days. The flare recurrence can be as short as 20~min from peak to peak. A model-independent analysis shows that the >6 Crab flares have a hard spectrum. A preliminary 10-400 keV spectral analysis of the off-flare and flare periods shows that the variation in intensity is likely to be due to variations of a cut-off power law component only. At X-ray and gamma-ray energies the flares are very well correlated. The optical activity is also correlated with the high energy one, although there is no one-to-one correlation. Instead the optical flares seem to be at least of two different types: one occurring in simultaneity with the X-ray flares, the other showing a delay greater than 10 min. The former could be associated with X-ray reprocessing by either an accretion disk or the companion star. We suggest that the latter are associated with plasma ejections that have also been seen in radio.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 07/2015; DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201527043 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ANTARES experiment consists of an array of photomultipliers distributed along 12 lines and located deep underwater in the Mediterranean Sea. It searches for astrophysical neutrinos collecting the Cherenkov light induced by the charged particles, mainly muons, produced in neutrino interactions around the detector. Since at energies of $\sim$10 TeV the muon and the incident neutrino are almost collinear, it is possible to use the ANTARES detector as a neutrino telescope and identify a source of neutrinos in the sky starting from a precise reconstruction of the muon trajectory. To get this result, the arrival times of the Cherenkov photons must be accurately measured. A to perform time calibrations with the precision required to have optimal performances of the instrument is described. The reconstructed tracks of the atmospheric muons in the ANTARES detector are used to determine the relative time offsets between photomultipliers. Currently, this method is used to obtain the time calibration constants for photomultipliers on different lines at a precision level of 0.5 ns. It has also been validated for calibrating photomultipliers on the same line, using a system of LEDs and laser light devices.
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    Experimental Astronomy 07/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10686-014-9427-9 · 1.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ANTARES telescope is well-suited for detecting astrophysical transient neutrino sources as it can observe a full hemisphere of the sky at all times with a high duty cycle. The background due to atmospheric particles can be drastically reduced, and the point-source sensitivity improved, by selecting a narrow time window around possible neutrino production periods. Blazars, being radio-loud active galactic nuclei with their jets pointing almost directly towards the observer, are particularly attractive potential neutrino point sources, since they are among the most likely sources of the very high-energy cosmic rays. Neutrinos and gamma rays may be produced in hadronic interactions with the surrounding medium. Moreover, blazars generally show high time variability in their light curves at different wavelengths and on various time scales. This paper presents a time-dependent analysis applied to a selection of flaring gamma-ray blazars observed by the FERMI/LAT experiment and by TeV Cherenkov telescopes using five years of ANTARES data taken from 2008 to 2012. The results are compatible with fluctuations of the background. Upper limits on the neutrino fluence have been produced and compared to the measured gamma-ray spectral energy distribution.
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    ABSTRACT: We present spectral analysis of five NuSTAR and Swift observations of GX 339-4 taken during a failed outburst in summer 2013. These observations cover Eddington luminosity fractions in the range ~0.9-6%. Throughout this outburst, GX 339-4 stayed in the hard state, and all five observations show similar X-ray spectra with a hard power-law with a photon index near 1.6 and significant contribution from reflection. Using simple reflection models we find unrealistically high iron abundances. Allowing for different photon indices for the continuum incident on the reflector relative to the underlying observed continuum results in a statistically better fit and reduced iron abundances. With a photon index around 1.3, the input power-law on the reflector is significantly harder than that which is directly observed. We study the influence of different emissivity profiles and geometries and consistently find an improvement when using separate photon indices. The inferred inner accretion disk radius is strongly model dependent, but we do not find evidence for a truncation radius larger than 100 r_g in any model. The data do not allow independent spin constraints but the results are consistent with the literature (i.e., a>0). Our best-fit models indicate an inclination angle in the range 40-60 degrees, consistent with limits on the orbital inclination but higher than reported in the literature using standard reflection models. The iron line around 6.4 keV is clearly broadened, and we detect a superimposed narrow core as well. This core originates from a fluorescence region outside the influence of the strong gravity of the black hole and we discuss possible geometries.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2015; 808(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/808/2/122 · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present simultaneous Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR ) and Suzaku observations of the X-ray binary Cygnus X-1 in the hard state. This is the first time this state has been observed in Cyg X-1 with NuSTAR, which enables us to study the reflection and broad-band spectra in unprecedented detail. We confirm that the iron line cannot be fit with a combination of narrow lines and absorption features, and instead requires a relativistically blurred profile in combination with a narrow line and absorption from the companion wind. We use the reflection models of Garcia et al. (2014) to simultaneously measure the black hole spin, disk inner radius, and coronal height in a self-consistent manner. Detailed fits to the iron line profile indicate a high level of relativistic blurring, indicative of reflection from the inner accretion disk. We find a high spin, a small inner disk radius, and a low source height, and rule out truncation to greater than three gravitational radii at the 3{\sigma} confidence level. In addition, we find that the line profile has not changed greatly in the switch from soft to hard states, and that the differences are consistent with changes in the underlying reflection spectrum rather than the relativistic blurring. We find that the blurring parameters are consistent when fitting either just the iron line or the entire broad-band spectrum, which is well modelled with a Comptonized continuum plus reflection model.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2015; 808(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/808/1/9 · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A search for high-energy neutrinos coming from the direction of the Galactic Centre is performed using the data recorded by the ANTARES neutrino telescope from 2007 to 2012. The event selection criteria are chosen to maximise the sensitivity to possible signals produced by the self-annihilation of weakly interacting massive particles accumulated around the centre of the Milky Way with respect to the atmospheric background. After data unblinding, the number of neutrinos observed in the line of sight of the Galactic Centre is found to be compatible with background expectations. The 90% C.L. upper limits in terms of the neutrino+anti-neutrino flux, $\rm \Phi_{\nu_{\mu}+\bar{\nu}_\mu}$, and the velocity averaged annihilation cross-section, $\rm <\sigma_{A}v>$, are derived for the WIMP self-annihilation channels into $\rm b\bar{b},W^{+}W^{-},\tau^{+}\tau^{-},\mu^{+}\mu^{-},\nu\bar{\nu}$. The ANTARES limits for $\rm <\sigma_{A}v>$ are shown to be the most stringent for a neutrino telescope over the WIMP masses $\rm 25\,GeV < M_{WIMP} < 10\,TeV$.
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    ABSTRACT: The fundamental parameters describing the coronal spectrum of an accreting black hole are the slope $\Gamma$ of the power-law continuum and the energy $E_{cut}$ at which it rolls over. Remarkably, this parameter can be accurately measured for values as high as 1 MeV by modeling the spectrum of X-rays reflected from a black hole accretion disk at energies below 100 keV. This is possible because the details in the reflection spectrum, rich in fluorescent lines and other atomic features, are very sensitive to the spectral shape of the hardest coronal radiation illuminating the disk. We show that fitting simultaneous NuSTAR (3-79 keV) and low-energy (e.g., Suzaku) data with the most recent version of our reflection model RELXILL, one can obtain reasonable constraints on $E_{cut}$ at energies from tens of keV up to 1 MeV, for a source as faint as 1 mCrab in a 100 ks observation.
    05/2015; 808(2). DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/808/2/L37
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    ABSTRACT: Polarization of the >~400 keV hard tail of the microquasar Cygnus X-1 has been independently reported by INTEGRAL/IBIS, and INTEGRAL/SPI and interpreted as emission from a compact jet. These conclusions were, however, based on the accumulation of all INTEGRAL data regardless of the spectral state. We utilize additional INTEGRAL exposure accumulated until December 2012, and include the AMI/Ryle (15 GHz) radio data in our study. We separate the observations into hard, soft, and intermediate/transitional states and detect radio emission from a compact jet in hard and intermediate states, but not in the soft. The 10-400 keV INTEGRAL (JEM-X and IBIS) state resolved spectra are well modeled with thermal Comptonization and reflection components. We detect a hard tail in the 0.4-2 MeV range for the hard state only. We extract the state dependent polarigrams of Cyg X-1, which all are compatible to no or undetectable level of polarization except in 400-2000 keV range in the hard state where the polarization fraction is 75$\pm$32 % and the polarization angle 40.0 +-14 deg. An upper limit on the 0.4-2 MeV soft state polarization fraction is 70%. Due to the short exposure, we obtain no meaningful constraint for the intermediate state. The likely detection of a >400 keV polarized tail in the hard state, together with the simultaneous presence of a radio jet, reinforce the notion of a compact jet origin of the 400 keV emission.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2015; 807(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/807/1/17 · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present spectral analysis of NuSTAR and Swift observations of Cep X-4 during its outburst in 2014. We observed the source once during the peak of the outburst and once during the decay, finding good agreement in the spectral shape between the observations. We describe the continuum using a powerlaw with a Fermi-Dirac cutoff at high energies. Cep X-4 has a very strong cyclotron resonant scattering feature (CRSF) around 30 keV. A simple absorption-like line with a Gaussian optical depth or a pseudo-Lorentzian profile both fail to describe the shape of the CRSF accurately, leaving significant deviations at the red side of the line. We characterize this asymmetry with a second absorption feature around 19 keV. The line energy of the CRSF, which is not influenced by the addition of this feature, shows a small but significant positive luminosity dependence. With luminosities between (1-6)e36 erg/s, Cep X-4 is below the theoretical limit where such a correlation is expected. This behavior is similar to Vela X-1 and we discuss parallels between the two systems.
    05/2015; 806(2). DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/806/2/L24
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    ABSTRACT: Parallel computing and steadily increasing computation speed have led to a new tool for analyzing multiple datasets and datatypes: fitting several datasets simultaneously. With this technique, physically connected parameters of individual data can be treated as a single parameter by implementing this connection directly into the fit. We discuss the terminology, implementation, and possible issues of simultaneous fits based on the Interactive Spectral Interpretation System (ISIS) X-ray data analysis tool. While all data modeling tools in X-ray astronomy in principle allow data to be fitted individually from multiple data sets, the syntax used in these tools is not often well suited for this task. Applying simultaneous fits to the transient X-ray binary GRO J1008–57, we find that the spectral shape is only dependent on X-ray flux. We determine time independent parameters e.g., the folding energy Efold, with unprecedented precision.
    Acta Polytechnica 04/2015; 55(2):126. DOI:10.14311/AP.2015.55.0123
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    ABSTRACT: Context: The magnetic field is a crucial ingredient of neutron stars. It governs the physics of accretion and of the resulting high-energy emission in accreting pulsars. Studies of the cyclotron resonant scattering features (CRSFs) seen as absorption lines in the X-ray spectra of the pulsars permit direct measuremets of the field strength. Aims: From an analysis of a number of pointed observations with different instruments, the energy of CRSF, Ecyc, has recently been found to decay in Her X-1, which is one of the best-studied accreting pulsars. We present our analysis of a homogeneous and almost uninterrupted monitoring of the line energy with Swift/BAT. Methods: We analyzed the archival Swift/BAT observations of Her X-1 from 2005 to 2014. The data were used to measure the CRSF energy averaged over several months. Results: The analysis confirms the long-term decay of the line energy. The downward trend is highly significant and consistent with the trend measured with the pointed observations: dEcyc/dt ~-0.3 keV per year. Conclusions: The decay of Ecyc either indicates a local evolution of the magnetic field structure in the polar regions of the neutron star or a geometrical displacement of the line-forming region due to long-term changes in the structure of the X-ray emitting region. The shortness of the observed timescale of the decay, -Ecyc/(dEcyc/dt) ~ 100 yr, suggests that trend reversals and/or jumps of the line energy might be observed in the future.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 04/2015; 578. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201526188 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fairall 51 is a polar-scattered Seyfert 1 galaxy, a type of active galaxies believed to represent a bridge between unobscured type-1 and obscured type-2 objects. Fairall 51 has shown complex and variable X-ray absorption but only little is known about its origin. In our research, we observed Fairall 51 with the X-ray satellite Suzaku in order to constrain a characteristic time-scale of its variability. We performed timing and spectral analysis of four observations separated by 1.5, 2 and 5.5 day intervals. We found that the 0.5-50 keV broadband X-ray spectra are dominated by a primary power-law emission (with the photon index ~ 2). This emission is affected by at least three absorbers with different ionisations (log(xi) ~ 1-4). The spectrum is further shaped by a reprocessed emission, possibly coming from two regions -- the accretion disc and a more distant scattering region. The accretion disc emission is smeared by the relativistic effects, from which we measured the spin of the black hole as a ~ 0.8 (+-0.2). We found that most of the spectral variability can be attributed to the least ionised absorber whose column density changed by a factor of two between the first (highest-flux) and the last (lowest-flux) observation. A week-long scale of the variability indicates that the absorber is located at the distance ~ 0.05 pc from the centre, i.e., in the Broad Line Region.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 04/2015; 578. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201425453 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The source(s) of the neutrino excess reported by the IceCube Collaboration is unknown. The TANAMI Collaboration recently reported on the multiwavelength emission of six bright, variable blazars which are positionally coincident with two of the most energetic IceCube events. Such objects are prime candidates to be the source of the highest-energy cosmic rays, and thus of associated neutrino emission. We present an analysis of neutrino emission from the six blazars using observations with the ANTARES neutrino telescope. The standard methods of the ANTARES candidate list search are applied to six years of data to search for an excess of muons - and hence their neutrino progenitors - from the directions of the six blazars described by the TANAMI Collaboration, and which are possibly associated with two IceCube events. Monte Carlo simulations of the detector response to both signal and background particle fluxes are used to estimate the sensitivity of this analysis for different possible source neutrino spectra. A maximum-likelihood approach, using the reconstructed energies and arrival directions of through-going muons, is used to identify events with properties consistent with a blazar origin.Both blazars predicted to be the most neutrino-bright in the TANAMI sample (1653-329 and 1714-336) have a signal flux fitted by the likelihood analysis corresponding to approximately one event. This observation is consistent with the blazar-origin hypothesis of the IceCube event IC14 for a broad range of blazar spectra, although an atmospheric origin cannot be excluded. No ANTARES events are observed from any of the other four blazars, including the three associated with IceCube event IC20. This excludes at a 90% confidence level the possibility that this event was produced by these blazars unless the neutrino spectrum is flatter than -2.4.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 03/2015; 576:L8. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201525670 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The EXTraS project (Exploring the X-ray Transient and variable Sky) will harvest the hitherto unexplored temporal domain information buried in the serendipitous data collected by the European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC) instrument onboard the ESA XMM-Newton X-ray observatory since its launch. This will include a search for fast transients, as well as a search and characterization of variability (both periodic and aperiodic) in hundreds of thousands of sources spanning more than nine orders of magnitude in time scale and six orders of magnitude in flux. X-ray results will be complemented by multiwavelength characterization of new discoveries. Phenomenological classification of variable sources will also be performed. All our results will be made available to the community. A didactic program in selected High Schools in Italy, Germany and the UK will also be implemented. The EXTraS project (2014-2016), funded within the EU/FP7 framework, is carried out by a collaboration including INAF (Italy), IUSS (Italy), CNR/IMATI (Italy), University of Leicester (UK), MPE (Germany) and ECAP (Germany).

Publication Stats

5k Citations
1,112.80 Total Impact Points


  • 2006–2015
    • Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
      Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2007–2014
    • Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
      Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2013
    • Paris Diderot University
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2009–2013
    • Universitätsklinikum Erlangen
      Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2010
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore County
      • Center for Space Science and Technology
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2004–2008
    • The University of Warwick
      • Department of Physics
      Warwick, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1970–2008
    • University of Tuebingen
      • Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics
      Tübingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
  • 2005
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2003–2004
    • University of Cambridge
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2002
    • University of California, Berkeley
      Berkeley, California, United States
    • SSL
      Palo Alto, California, United States
  • 2001
    • University of Colorado at Boulder
      Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • 1997
    • University of California, San Diego
      • Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS)
      San Diego, California, United States