Summer jobs in particle physics and astrophysics

Apply by filling the application form. Deadline for applications is 1 February 2021.

Holographic duality and its applications

The goal of this project is to learn about and perform calculations in holographic duality. This duality is a discovery in theoretical physics (more specifically in string theory) that relates two very different types of theories; a gravitational theory and a quantum field theory. Results in one theory can be translated to results in the other.

This duality can be used as a tool to explore many different areas of physics. Researchers including several here in Helsinki are using it to study nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, and more. 

We are searching for one summer trainee interested in learning about holographic duality as well as other areas of theoretical physics and in gaining some experience in performing related calculations. The details of the project are quite flexible and will be chosen considering the experience and interests of the trainee. 

For more information, contact Oscar Henriksson,

Dark matter direct detection

We are searching for 2-3 summer students interested in particle astrophysics and cosmology. The projects consider theoretical description of dark matter and may be focused on properties and constraints of different particle physics models of dark matter, its abundance and scattering on different target materials. 

The projects are suitable for an MSc thesis and require strong background in mathematical methods as well as good knowledge of basic and advanced quantum mechanics and basic quantum field theory.

More information:

Theoretical Extragalactic astrophysics

We are looking for summer trainees with an interest in theoretical astrophysics and/or theoretical physics. In addition to theoretical work, our projects include a significant computational aspect. We encourage students interested in theory and computation to join the Theoretical Extragalactic astrophysics research group for a three-month period over the summer.

This year, the projects on offer are related to the KETJU-project, which was recently funded by the European Research Council. In this project the aim is to use the newly developed simulation code KETJU to model the dynamics of supermassive black holes in galaxy mergers. Using KETJU the large-scale structure of galaxies can be studied, while simultaneously resolving accurately, the small-scale dynamics close to the supermassive black holes. 

1) Modelling the cosmological formation of cored early-type galaxies:

In this project the goal is to use numerical cosmological simulations to study the effect of binary supermassive black holes (SMBHs) on the central structure of massive elliptical galaxies. The interaction between the SMBH and the surrounding stars tend to eject stars from the centre of the galaxy and using KETJU this process can be studied in detail. However, gas cooling and central star formation contributes to increasing the central stellar density. In this project the aim is to study what is the dominant process for setting the central stellar density in massive galaxies.  Good computing skills and knowledge of galaxy formation theory and galactic dynamics are advantageous for this project.

2) Gravitational wave kicks from merging supermassive black holes:

In the final stages of the merger of a supermassive black hole (SMBH) binary copious amounts of gravitational waves will be emitted. In addition, the merged SMBHs will receive a kick that depends on the orbital orientation, masses and spins of the individual SMBHs prior to the merger. Using the Post-Newtonian formalism in KETJU the gravitational wave energy spectrum as a function of frequency and the amplitude and direction of this kick can be calculated. In this project the aim is to study the dynamics of merged SMBHs in the centres of massive galaxies. Good computing skills and prior knowledge of general relativity and galactic dynamics are advantageous for this project.

3) Black hole accretion and feedback in merging galaxies

Supermassive black holes (SMBH) at the centre of massive galaxies accrete gas, thus converting efficiently the potential and kinetic energy of this gas into radiation, which heats the surrounding gas and affects the evolution of the entire galaxy. This interplay between gas and SMBHs is termed the black hole accretion and feedback process, and it is a key ingredient in modern galaxy formation models. In this project the goal is to use KETJU numerical simulations to study how the accretion and feedback process of binary SMBHs affects the properties of merging galaxies. Good computing skills and knowledge of galaxy formation theory are advantageous for this project.

4) Visualising cosmological simulations in Virtual Reality.

Visualising cosmological simulations of the Universe is both a useful scientific tool and a fantastic way to convey the theories surrounding numerical astrophysics to the general public (see some example visualisations here For this project the candidate will produce stills, movies and virtual reality fly-throughs of cosmological simulations for the purposes of public outreach. They will also produce tools to create arbitrary flight paths to orient the camera through the simulation given a list of interesting astrophysical structures. Good computing skills (particularly in Python) are essential for this project. Basic video editing skills would also be advantageous.

When applying please indicate your preference for the research topic. All research topics could also form the basis for either a Bachelor or a Master thesis in Astrophysics, Theoretical physics or a related field. For advanced students there is also a possibility to continue with a PhD thesis project after the successful completion of the Master thesis.

For more information see:

Contact persons:  Prof. Peter Johansson   peter.johansson[at]            
Dr. Shihong Liao             shihong.liao[at]
Dr. Stuart McAlpine       stuart.mcalpine[at]

Pla­ne­ta­ry-Sys­tem Re­search

Planetary-system research (PSR) at the University of Helsinki comprises theoretical, computational, experimental, and observational research of Solar System objects (asteroids and comets, planets and their moons). The PSR research has close connections to geophysics, geology, as well as meteorology and is focused on asteroids (e.g., ESA Gaia mission, ESA Euclid mission, ESA Hera mission in planetary defense), comets (ESA Comet Interceptor mission),  Mercury (ESA/JAXA BepiColombo and NASA MESSENGER missions), and other atmosphereless bodies, as well as the planet Earth (notably NASA DSCOVR mission). Astronomical observations are carried out, for example, at the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) and, in the future, with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). The PSR group runs the Astrophysical Scattering Laboratory consisting of a state-of-the-art levitator-driven scatterometer, UV-Vis-NIR spectrometer, and a polarimetric spectrogoniometer. The development of hyperspectral imaging based backscatterometer is ongoing. Laboratory collaboration in X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy progresses with the University of Leicester. In more detail, the research involves forward and inverse light scattering, X-ray fluorescence, and celestial mechanics methods for accrueing knowledge on individual planetary-system objects as well as entire populations of asteroids and comets.

Within PSR, three summer trainee positions are opened in the following topics:

  1. Experimental light-scattering and X-ray fluorescence measurements and laboratory development at the University of Helsinki and at the University of Leicester.
  2. Inverse methods for the combined UV-Vis-NIR and X-ray data on planet Mercury collected by the NASA MESSENGER mission, in view of applying the methods in the ongoing ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission.
  3. Asteroid compositional, structural, and rotational analyses based on Gaia photometry (Data Release 2) and spectrometry (future data releases).

In all three cases, the training will take place in synergy with the preparation of the ESA Hera and Comet Interceptor missions.

Contact person: Karri Muinonen (karri.muinonen at

Space phy­sics

The UH Space Physics Group is recruiting summer trainees! Trainees will work with the space weather simulation Vlasiator and with projects investigating solar eruptions in the corona and interplanetary space. Both projects dealing with modelling and data analysis are possible. Experience with Python and basics of plasma physics are a plus, but not required. Most positions provide an excellent topic for BSc or MSc theses!

The topics are listed below. Please indicate in your application which projects you are interested in and any preference between modelling, observations/data analysis or theory. Also, please indicate if you would like to do your BSc or MSc work based on your summer trainee work.

  • Numerical analysis of Precipitation of particles from the Earth's magnetosphere
  • Hamiltonian approach to wave-particle interactions of relativistic electrons
  • Identifying Moving Radio Sources Associated with Solar Storms Using Radio Observations and
  • Investigating wave activity caused by solar storms in near-Earth space
  • Coronal Mass Ejection parameter investigation with EUHFORIA
  • Solar Energetic Particle properties in relation to Interplanetary conditions
  • The importance of pre- versus post-eruption flux in solar eruptions
  • Multi-wavelength analysis of solar eruption source regions
  • Identifying high-intensity space weather events for simulation validation
  • Investigation of Helium ions near magnetopause reconnection
  • Flux Transfer Events and their interaction with Earth’s polar cusps
  • Modelling solar eruptions from birth to lift-off

More detailed descriptions of these projects can be found at

For possible questions about summer trainee positions, please contact or the person listed under each topic.

The University of Helsinki Space Physics Group is a leading European space physics team specialised both in observations and modelling of space plasmas. For example, we develop the novel global hybrid-Vlasov simulation Vlasiator and have a strong focus on solar eruptions. We have a dynamic and international research group with currently about 30 members including three professors and several post-docs and PhD students. The recently established Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space is led by the UH Space Physics Group. For more information, please visit:

HIP summer jobs at CERN in 2021 etc. 

Note different application times! Please see: