Artwork of the Space Physics Group, University of Helsinki

On December 9th we had a grand opening of the Artwork of the Space Physics Group exhibition. It is set up in the meeting room ‘Koskinen Korner’ at the Kumpula Campus Space Corridor.

Doing science is dealing with complex equations, writing infinite lines of code and handling an endless stream of data. It may seem incomprehensible, technical and boring. But sometimes the results become so beautiful that you just cannot stop staring at them.

Aesthetic aspects are important in science communication, but good figures are also a key element in scientific publications. A wrong choice of colour scale may not only look displeasing but could even lead to misinterpretations. They are also not just pretty pictures but help to better understand and explain the world around us.

The exhibition shows a selection of 14 artworks from the FORESAIL researchers working at the University of Helsinki. The themes range from solar eruptions to magnetospheric dynamics and include both simulation and data analysis results.  There is a leaflet available with brief explanations.

The curator is Dr. Simon Good. He is an Academy Research Fellow and studies turbulence in the solar wind. The initial idea of the exhibition emerged as Simon wanted to make Koskinen Korner a cozier place to have meetings and small gatherings. It also has great outreach value and will be a nice way to present our work for visitors.

Due to the pandemic we had only a small opening party, but we are happy to present the exhibition to all interested. Welcome!


Below are a sample of two artworks


Accidental art


When Earth's magnetic field gets disturbed by fluctuations in the solar wind, magnetic field lines get twisted and flow from Earth's dayside towards the nightside, in a process called a 'Flux Transfer Event (FTE)'. Using kinetic plasma simulations, we tracked these FTEs as they moved along the Magnetopause. In this graph, we attempted to plot their locations. Except the plotting didn't go quite right, scales are totally off and the plot is all over the place. The final (fixed) version of this same plot ended up being the cover image for Volume 124, Issue 6 of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Flying in the wind


Like lanterns let to fly in the wind, wiggling around with currents, modelled coronal mass ejections with spheromaks are flying away from the Sun in the solar wind, rotating around due to the interplanetary magnetic field. Image from Asvestari et al. (2021, Astrophysical Journal).