Personal Background

I have been interested in astronomy, since I was 12 years old. I attended a boarding school from age 10 to 14. The school had a sizable collection of minerals that stirred my interest. Asking a teacher for literature about minerals he told me that he had nothing suitable for a person of my age, but that he had some books about stars that might interest me.
I began to read the books he gave to me and became more interested in astronomy. The r taught me Kepler"s laws of planetary motion. With his help and a considerable collection of eye glasses and cardboard cylinders in the teacher's possession, and with his help I built my first refractor telescope. I became sure that I wanted to become an astronomer when I were to enter university.

University Studies

At the beginnining of the summer semester 1970 I enrolled at the Universität Münster. It was the university closest to my hometown and the only university in Germany where one could choose astronomy as the major subject. Sometime during the semester Prof. Straßl, the director of the astronomical institute, advised me to leave and go elsewhere because the institute as he said was too small to provide me with a decent education. He had a point: the instiute consisted of one professor, his assistant and one student, me.

I set out to look for an alternative, first visiting Bonn where I rented a room right away, applied for admission to study physics in Heidelberg and finally visited Göttingen. I got admiitted for study in Heidelberg, but when walking through the streets of Göttingen, I knew that this was the town where i wanted to study. A small town, breathing history on every corner, the place where Gauss and Hilbert had worked, one of the birthplaces of quantum mechanics and with an astronomical observatory built during Gauss' lifetime.

Admission in Göttongen was also restricted and the application deadline had already passed. I consulted Prof. Kippenhahn who engaged in theoretical astrophysics and he suggested that I start by studiyng mathematica first and switch to physics after the Vordiplom (approx. B.Sc.). So I did. After 3 semesters I obtained the Vordiplom. Meanwhile I had decided that I was no longer interested in science and began to study English literature and history for 3 semesters. Then my love for astronomy returned and I switched again, to physics. Under the supervision of Willi Deinzer I investigated the generation of magnetic fields in the cores of massive stars.

M.Sc. Thesis

In my thesis I studied the mechanism of $\alpha$-effect dynamos driven by turbulent plasma motion, when currents flow through magnetic fields. The sun's and the earth's magnetic fields are generated by such dynamo action. While research thus far had focussed on $\alpha\omega$-dynamos, where the $\alpha$-effect and differential rotation work together to produce magnetic fields, my work showed that the $\alpha$-effect alone was sufficient. Such a dynamo is called an $\alpha^2$-dynamo. An unexpected side result with a model consisting of a convecrive core surrounded by a radiative shell behaves quite different as a function of $\alpha$-effect strength compared to $\alpha\omega$-dynamos. An existing field decays extremely slowly, when the effect is weak and begins to grow when a threshold is crossed.

Thesis Title

$\alpha^2$ Dynamos in den konvektiven Kernen massereicher Sterne
$\alpha^2$ dynmos in the convective cores of massive stars


Manfred Schüßler, Arno Pähler
Diffusion of a Strong Internal Magnetic Field through the Radiative Envelope of a 2.25 $M_{\odot}$ star
Astron. & Astrophys. 68, 57-62 (1978)

The publication was last cited in a research paper in July 2023.

Paper - local copy