The research concentrates on the properties of the interstellar medium and the process of star formation, both in the Milky Way and other galaxies. 

The main topics include:

  • Physical and chemical properties of interstellar molecular clouds and the initial conditions for star formation by means of radio spectroscopy
  • Properties and composition of interstellar dust grains by observing continuum emission from dust
  • Measurement and modelling of the Extragalacic Background Light (EBL) in the optical and infrared
  • Numerical radiative transfer modelling of spectral lines and dust continuum emission in interstellar clouds
  • Numerical magnetohydrodynamical modelling of the physical properties of the molecular clouds

The main instruments currently in use include:

  • ESO (European Southern Observatory)
    • Large optical telescopes (VLT etc.) and radio telescopes (APEX, ALMA) located in Chile.
    • Finland is a member of ESO since 2004
    • ESO/ESA synergy important for Finnish Astronomy
    • Participation in ALMA and ESO/VLT infrared projects building on previous experience with SEST, ISO, ODIN 
    • See also ESO press releases
    • Infrared Halo Frames a Newborn Star
    • Seeing through the Dark
  • Planck
  • Herschel


  • Lauri Haikala, University researcher 
    • Physicum D319 
    • Infrared and radio observations, interstellar dark clouds and globules 
  • Jorma Harju, University researcher 
    • Physicum D312 
    • Interstellar chemistry, molecular lines, studies of pre-stellar cores
  • Mika Juvela, University lecturer 
    • Physicum D331a 
    • Modelling of interstellar medium, Herschel and Planck satellite projects
  • Kalevi Mattila, Professor (emeritus) 
    • Physicum A218
  • Oskari Miettinen, Postdoctoral researcher 
    • Radio observations, high-mass star formation
  • Veli-Matti Pelkonen, postdoctoral researcher (FINCA)
    • Planck studies of interstellar medium, infrared observations