Meet the scientists researching at Goethe University: Relativistic Astrophysicist Luciano Rezzolla

We wanted to know: Why did our scientists want to become scientists in the first place? What are they working on, and what do they still want to discover? You can read their answers to these questions and more – including how they motivate their working groups and what they could really do without – as part of this series, which successively introduces some of the people behind the research conducted at Goethe University.

Name: Luciano Rezzolla
Profession: Relativistic Astrophysicist 
Place of work: Institute for Theoretical Physics

Why did you become a scientist?

I guess I always liked jobs that required creativity, that would not be confined within precise limits, and that would bring a sense of discovery. Being a scientist meets all of these requirements.

What are you currently working on?

From one side, I am trying to understand the interior structure and composition of neutron stars in terms of the observables they produce when they merge in binary systems, that is, gravitational waves, electromagnetic radiation and heavy-elements nucleosynthesis. From the other side, I am trying to extract as much information as possible from the images of supermassive black holes and, in particular, understand if Einstein was right or different theories of gravity provide a better match to the observations.

What does your ideal workday look like?

Unfortunately, my ideal workday looks very different from the real workday. In particular, in such an ideal world I would have much more time to discuss science and research with my students and postdocs.

What could you easily do without in your daily work?

I wish I could do without all the time consuming aspects that are associated with managing a large scientific research group and overseeing the smooth running of a potential Excellence Cluster.

What I like about my job is…

…the joy of having an idea that none has had before and to realise that it could actually be a good one.

How do you motivate your working group?

Under many respects, ours is job by vocation and as such, scientists come already with a good deal of motivation. However, I am a deep believer that nothing inspires more than a role model and that’s what I try to be to motivate my working group.

To me, Goethe University Frankfurt is

A great melting pot of culture and bright minds.

Which famous personality would you like to swap days with?

Bernard Moitessier. He’s no longer alive but is a constant role model.

How do you get your mind off research?

In principle I have many ways of doing that but in practice this has been increasingly difficult over the last couple of years. During Covid I’ve sailed much more than usual, managed to write a book, and also got into sculpture and wood work. I wish I could do more of all of this.

Prof. Luciano Rezzolla is a member of the ELEMENTS cluster initiative. The research cluster aims to find out how heavy elements, including copper, gold and lead, are formed in the universe.

More information on Prof. Rezzolla’s research topics is available here.

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