Interstellar Medium and Star Formation

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