Summer jobs in the Division of Particle Physics and Astrophysics

The Division of Particle Physics and Astrophysics has strong theoretical and experimental research in its research fields.

Open positions for summer work include:

A) 1-2 positions in theoretical particle physics

We are looking for 1-2 summer students interested in theoretical particle physics to work on projects related to

  1. The thermodynamic properties of quark matter inside neutron stars,
  2. The dynamics of the Electroweak phase transition in the early universe.

The prerequisites for the position(s) is a fluent mastering of the basic mathematical tools of theoretical physics (MAPU, FYMM I-III), statistical mechanics and at least the basics of quantum field theory. It is possible to study some of this material during the summer project, which will optimally result in either a BSc or MSc thesis.

For more information, please contact Associate Professor Aleksi Vuorinen,


B) One position in QFT and particle phenomenology

One summer trainee position in quantum field theory and particle phenomenology. Possible research topics include: dark matter candidates in extensions of the Standard Model and their direct and indirect probes, strong interactions beyond QCD and their perturbative and nonperturbative analyses.

Contact person:
Kimmo Tuominen
kimmo.i.tuominen at


C) One position in observational astrophysics

The observational astrophysics and cosmology group led by Prof. Alexis Finoguenov is conducting the galaxy evolution and cosmological studies using groups and cluster of galaxies. A summer job opening is on construction of the catalogs of galaxy clusters using advances in a number of photometric surveys: SDSS, Panstarrs, DECaLS. The task will be in assessing the results of the automated cluster identification, determining the cluster redshifts using available spectroscopy data, constructing the follow-up program using Nordic Optical Telescope, as well as reducing the spectroscopic data obtained by NOT on this sample. Previous experience with astronomical data reduction (e.g. as offered by the Advanced Observational Astronomy I course at Helsinki) is a bonus.

Contact person:
Alexis Finoguenov
alexis.finoguenov at


D) Six positions in space physics

Summer job / BSc topic: Particle acceleration at shocks

Particle acceleration is one of the most important topics in space physics, having to do with a variety of other plasma applications, such as astrophysics and fusion physics. In this project, the goal is to carry out numerical analysis of particle injection and acceleration at shock fronts within the near-Earth space through test-particle methods. We track the reflection and acceleration of test particle protons propagated on results of the Vlasiator hybrid-Vlasov simulation in the context of the bow shock of the Earth. We assess statistical results of acceleration due to electric fields and reflection at magnetic obstacles. The project is directly contributing to a European Research Council grant and the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space.

Summer job / BSc or MSc topic: Energy transfer at the magnetopause

The magnetopause is an intriguing boundary that separates the Earth's magnetic domain (called the magnetosphere) from the interplanetary space. All magnetospheric dynamics, like the vivid auroral displays, are driven by energy transferred from the solar wind. Energy transfer is hot topic in magnetospheric physics, but it is investigated globally only approximately. Vlasiator is the world

Summer job / BSc or MSc topic: Compact Data Representations of 6D velocity space data

Kinetic simulations of space plasmas require representations of data within a 6-dimensional space. As a result, the memory requirements of these simulations are enormous. A prime example of such a computational challenge is the Vlasiator, world's most accurate space environment simulation developed at the University of Helsinki. This project tries to find innovative ways to use simulation information to find more compact ways to store data, e.g., by transforming it appropriately into integer numbers. We are now looking for a C++ coder. If running simulations on Europe's biggest supercomputers is interesting to you, you should apply! The project is directly contributing to a European Research Council grant and the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space.

Summer job / BSc or MSc topic: Effects of Helium ions on kinetic plasma processes in the Magnetosphere

Learn what the Earth's magnetosphere sounds like when it inhales Helium! To the largest extent, interaction of the solar wind with Earth's magnetosphere can be modelled by relying purely on electrons and protons, ignoring any contributions by heavier ion species. However, there are some processes, where Helium and Oxygen ions can play an important role: Shock physics, reflected particle-wave instabilities, magnetic reconnection and magnetospheric mirror modes are among them. Using simulation results from the Vlasiator team, this project aims to quantify how strong these effects actually are: where they can be completely ignored, where their effects can be easily be estimated analytically, and where they have to be more thoroughly modelled. The project is directly contributing to a European Research Council grant.

Summer job / BSc or MSc topic: Asymmetry of magnetosheath properties in Vlasiator simulations

The magnetosheath is the region of the near-Earth's space acting as a buffer between the solar wind and the magnetosphere. It plays a key role e.g., in magnetic reconnection, which allows the entry of solar wind energy into the magnetosphere and can result in large-scale disturbances in the near-Earth's space, known as geomagnetic storms. The plasma parameters in the magnetosheath are intimately linked with the bow shock properties, and asymmetries in the shock parameters can result in asymmetries in the magnetosheath properties, which can in turn impact the solar wind-magnetosphere coupling. The aim of this project will be to use the outputs of the Vlasiator simulation in order to investigate how the asymmetry of various parameters such as the plasma density, temperature, magnetic field strength, evolve as a function of the bow shock properties and/or the upstream solar wind conditions. The results will be compared with spacecraft observations. The project is directly contributing to a European Research Council grant and a Marie Curie grant.

Summer job / MSc topic: Influence of the interplanetary magnetic field strength on the properties of magnetosheath mirror modes

Mirror mode waves are plasma waves which are characterized by anti-correlated fluctuations of the magnetic field strength and plasma density. They develop in plasmas with large temperature anisotropies and are observed in many space environments, such as planetary magnetosheaths, the wake of comets and ICME sheaths. Here we will focus on mirror modes developing in the Earth's magnetosheath. Understanding the properties of the magnetosheath is particularly important in the study of solar-terrestrial relations as this region is at the interface between the solar wind and the magnetosphere and regulates the energy and plasma transfer from the former to the latter. The aim of the project will be to compare the properties of the mirror modes in two simulation runs with almost identical set-ups, but with different interplanetary magnetic field strength, which allows to separate the effects of a change in this parameter. The runs have been performed with a global model called Vlasiator, which simulates the solar wind-magnetosphere interaction with unprecedented detail. The results will be compared with spacecraft observations. The project is directly contributing to a European Research Council grant, and a Marie Curie grant.

Contact person:
Minna Palmroth
minna.palmroth at


E) 1-2 positions in computational field theory and gravitational waves

We are looking for 1-2 summer trainees with a background in theoretical physics and preferably with good programming skills. The positions are for three months, with exact dates to be agreed upon.

We study theories of particle physics using large-scale numerical simulations, usually applied to cosmology. In particular, our research topics include gravitational wave production in the early Universe, phase transitions in beyond the Standard Model theories, and algorithmic development. The trainees' research projects are chosen according to the experience and preference of the trainees. The research projects can form the basis for either a Bachelor or a Master thesis.

Visualisations of past research, including some by previous summer trainees, can be seen at

Contact persons:
Kari Rummukainen, David Weir
kari.rummukainen at, at


F) Up to three positions in theoretical extragalactic astrophysics

We are looking for up to 3 summer trainees with a background in theoretical astrophysics and/or theoretical physics combined with good programming skills to join the Theoretical Extragalactic research group for a three-month period over the summer. The research topics on offer include:

  1. Simulations of the Local Group of galaxies: We look for a skilled summer trainee to perform and analyse numerical simulations run on the CSC supercomputing cluster. The simulations aim at studying the evolution of the Local Universe, and understanding the role of dark matter in shaping the formation of galaxies and cosmic structures. Good computing skills and knowledge of galaxy formation theory and / or cosmology are advantageous for this project.
  2. Gravitational waves from supermassive black holes: A summer trainee is sought for a project related to numerical modelling of the dynamics of supermassive black holes in galaxy mergers. The aim of the project is to use the new simulation code, "KETJU", which has been developed in the group to estimate the merger timescale of supermassive black holes and to study the central structure of massive elliptical galaxies. Using KETJU the dynamical evolution of the black holes can be studied all the way to the gravitational wave driven final phase. Good computing skills and prior knowledge of celestial mechanics and galactic dynamics are advantageous for this project.
  3. Radiation transfer near compact objects: We look for a skilled summer trainee to work on the numerical investigation of light propagation in curved space-times near compact massive objects. The aim is to produce physically accurate mock observations of phenomena such as neutron star hotspots and accretion discs around black holes. Good computing skills and prior knowledge of general relativity is advantageous for this project.

When applying please indicate your preference for the research topic. All three research topics could also form the basis for either a Bachelor or a Master thesis in Astrophysics, Theoretical physics or a related field. For more information see:

Contact person:
Prof. Peter Johansson


G) Three summer trainee positions in planetary science

Asteroid physical characterization. We are looking for a summer trainee with astrophysics, physics, theoretical physics, or mathematics background for the retrieval of asteroid surface properties from astronomical observations, e.g., at the Nordic Optical Telescope and at the European Southern Observatory. The subject entails the application of the novel numerical spectrometric, photometric, and polarimetric methods developed within the ERC Advanced Grant entitled SAEMPL (Scattering and Absorption of ElectroMagnetic waves in ParticuLate media). The research can lead to B.Sc. or M.Sc. theses (with prospects for a Ph.D. thesis).

Spherical albedo and net radiation of planet Earth. We are looking for a summer trainee with theoretical astrophysics, theoretical physics, and/or mathematics background for the retrieval of the Earth's spherical albedo and net radiation from the radiative perturbations on the Earth-orbiting artificial satellites. The subject, one of the central challenges the human kind is currently facing, entails the development of statistical methods for high-dimensional inverse problems. The research can lead to B.Sc. or M.Sc. theses (with prospects for a Ph.D. thesis).

Metsähovi Satellite Laser Ranging -station, infrared detector development work. The Finnish Geospatial Research Institute (FGI) of the National Land Survey (NLS) is looking for a summer trainee for the Department of Geodesy and Geodynamics. The trainee will participate in the final development activities, to facilitate the first measurements, of the novel FGI Satellite Laser Ranging -station (SLR) in Metsähovi. The job requires good skills in planning and building of electronics, and programming competency.

Contact persons:
Karri Muinonen, Antti Penttilä, Markku Poutanen, Jyri Näränen


How to apply:

Those interested in the positions are asked to fill the e-form. Deadline for the applications is 6.2.2018.
Based on the applications, some of the applicants will be invited to an interview in February. Filling of the positions will announced by 9.3.2018.

Helsinki Institute of Physics offers several summer trainee positions. See
Note that the deadlines differ from the other positions (earliest 31.1.2018).