- 17. 05. 2006 Congratulations to Professor Esko
Valtaoja, whose application for a centre of excellence, has
been accepted into the final evaluation round by the Academy
of Finland. The centre's research focus is cosmic and solar
- 17. 05. 2006 Congratulations to Professor Mauri
Valtonen, who has been awarded the prestigious
E. J. Nyström prize by the The Finnish Society of
Sciences and Letters. The prizewinner is elected annually from
among all members and is valued at 20,000 euros. Mauri Valtonen was
cited for his work (amongst others) on OJ287, a highly variable active
galaxy, which is thought to harbour a binary black
- 4. 04. 2006 Research Highlight BL Lacs
Astronomers at Tuorla Observatory and
Metsähovi Radio Observatory, have made a study of over 300 so-called
"BL Lac" galaxies, concluding that one of the standard explanations
for these energetic emittors, which divides BL Lacs into various
subtypes, may be flawed.
- 26. 11. 2005 Congratulations to Leo Takalo, who
has obtained funding from the Academy of Finland for 50,000 euros
for the project "Astrophysics at the Nordic Optical Telescope".
- 14. 9. 2005 Research Highlight How far
the galactic neighbours?
An international team of
astronomers, including Rami Rekola, Chris Flynn, Mauri Valtonen and
Jari Kotilainen of Tuorla Observatory, have calibrated methods for
measuring distances to nearby galaxies.
- 10. 9. 2005 Congratulations to Rami Rekola, who has been awarded
a University of Turku prize for an outstanding PhD thesis.
- 30. 5. 2005 Research Highlight Solar
An international team of astronomers,
including Silja Pohjolainen of Tuorla Observatory, have observed a
type of explosion on the surface of the Sun called a coronal mass
ejection (CME). The fact that the CME comes from a very small, rather
than a quite large region on the Sun, has come as a surprise to
- 20. 5. 2005 New pages have been opened on solar
activity studies at Tuorla, and are maintained by Solar Researcher
Silja Pohjolainen. The pages can be found here.
- 25. 4. 2005 Congratulations to Leena Tähtinen and
Silja Pohjolainen, whose book
Aurinko - tähden tarina has just been published by WSOY.
- 25. 4. 2005 Congratulations to Pasi Nurmi, who was
introduced as a GAIA member of the Double and Multiple Stars Working
Group and the Photometry Working Group. GAIA is a European Space
Agency mission which will map about one billion stars in the Milky
- 19-22. 4. 2005 Renato Falamo from the Osservatorio di
Padova visited Tuorla Observatory, to work with Jari
Kotilainen. Renato gave us a talk on " Redshifts of BL Lac objects -
results from VLT data" which included magnificent, high signal to
noise spectra of BL Lac objects, with redshift detections for many
from absorption lines in the host galaxy's stellar populations. They
have also together just set a new record for the most distant
host galaxy detection.
- 19. 4. 2005 CONGRATULATIONS to Opteon Oy! The Herschel mirror,
which when deployed in 2007 will be the largest sent into space, has now been
polished to perfection. The mirror has left Tuorla Observatory by Beluga
transporter for France.
More here on this unique, record setting mirror
- 2-3. 3. 2005 Erik Zackrisson from the University of
Uppsala visited Tuorla Observatory 2.-3. March 2005 and discussed dark
matter and galaxy evolution with Chris Flynn's DARKSTAR research
group. He also gave us a seminar on the case for dark matter in
- 18. 2. 2005 Svetlana Berdyugina, who is a
senior scientist of the Academy of Finland and working at Oulu
University, visited Tuorla Observatory 18.2.2005. She gave a seminar
about Optical support of the NASA/Stanford Gravity Probe B
- 28. 1. 2005 Juri
Poutanen, professor of astronomy at Oulu University, visited
Tuorla Observatory 28.1.2005. He gave a seminar about millisecond
pulsars. Juri is also now a member of the Tuorla Board. The visit was
hosted by Esko Valtaoja.
- 19-21.1.2005 A whole lot of people from Finland and
Russia visited Tuorla observatory 19-21.1.2005. The occasion was a
Finnish-Russian symposium, mainly on radio astronomy and AGN
research. Seven talks was given by our Russian colleagues and 15+
short talks by Tuorla and Metsahovi AGN/Planck people.
- 18. 12. 2004 Rami Rekola has successfully
defended his PhD thesis on "Distance Determinations to Nearby
Galaxies". The thesis used a range of distance determination
techniques, including planetary nebulae, surface brightness
fluctuations and cepheid stars. Rami's opponent was Professor Gene
Byrd from the University of Alabama. Congratulations!
- 17. 12. 2004 Dr Alexander Riehokainen has been
appointed to a tenured position at Tuorla Observatory. Alexander
works in solar physics, and has recently been studying the difficult
to observe polar regions of the Sun with the Metsahovi radio
- 22. 11. 2004 There will be a slightly unusual ceremony
at Tuorla Observatory on Wednesday, 24th of November at
10:15. Dr. David Jauncey (Australian Telescope National Facility) and
Dr. Martin George (Curator, Queen Victoria Museum, Tasmania) will
present us with a small metal box containing a portion of cremated
remains of Dr. Grote Reber, the father of radio astronomy, who passed
away two years ago. A similar box will be presented to four other
observatories in the U.K. and United States, so we are the recipients
of a rare honour. The distribution of these memorial boxes is in
accordance with the wishes of the Executor of the Grote Reber Estate,
Mr. Dale Blanchard, of Lauderdale, Tasmania. The ceremony will be
followed by a talk about Grote Reber and his achievements, given by
- 15. 11. 2004 Congratulations to Professor Esko
Valtaoja, who has obtained four years of funding from the Academy of Finland for the project "High
energy blazar astronomy".
- 1. 11. 2004 Congratulations! "Nurkkaan Ajettu Jumala",
by Juha Pihkala and Esko Valtaoja, has won the Christian Book of the
year prize for 2004.
- 1. 11. 2004 NEW BOOK. "Avoin tie" by Esko Valtaoja has
just been published. A discussion of the future : for humanity, for
the environment, for life and for the cosmos. This is the third book
by Esko Valtaoja, who was the winner of the 2002 Science book of the
year. Published in Finnish.
- 1-3. 9. 2004 Tuorla Astronomers at the Turku Book Fair
Tuorla astronomers Leena Tähtinen and Esko Valtaoja were among
the many public speakers at the Book Fair this year in Turku. Leena
Tähtinen gave a talk on the Sun, our nearest neighbour, as well
as interviewing Academician Olli Lehto on his new book about the
Väisälä brothers, one of whom
founded Tuorla. Tuorla director Esko Valtaoja spoke on his new book on the
"god of the gaps" written with Bishop Juha Pihkala.
- 1. 7. 2004 The Herschel mirror has arrived safely at
Tuorla Observatory's Opteon Lab aboard ESA's Beluga transporter. The
3.5 metre main mirror of the Herschel satellite is to undergo final
polishing in the Opteon workshop. The plane arrived on Tuesday 29/6
and the mirror was transferred from the airport to Tuorla on Wednesday
30/6. The mirror itself will be the largest mirror yet to be launched
into space. More info
- 14. 6. 2004 - Two PhD theses defended. Congratulations
to Juha Reuanen and Seppo Katajainen, who defended their
PhD theses on two consecutive Saturdays (5.6.2004 and 12.6.2004
respectively). Juha's thesis addressed the infrared properties of
active galaxies. Juha was supervised by Dr. Jari Kotilainen, and has
taken a position at the European Southern Observatory in
Munich. Seppo's thesis was on polarimetric studies of magnetic
cataclysmic variables and was supervised by Dr. Vilppu Piirola.
- 7. 6. 2004. Dr. Johan Holmberg has joined VISPA on a postdoc position funded
by the Academy of Finland. Johan has been a frequent visitor to the DARKSTAR
group, and has worked on the mass of the Galactic disk, as well as its
kinematic, age and chemical properties.
- 20. 5. 2004
Welcome to Tomi Hyvönen, who will be an MSc student at
Tuorla Observatory from May 2004. Tomi is doing his MSc thesis on
quasar evolution under the supervision of Jari
- 15. 5. 2004 Over 800 people visited Tuorla Observatory
during an open door day. All the telescopes were open for
inspection; an air planetarium in "full-blown" operation; a corner for
kiddies to construct planetary systems to their own design; books
written by Tuorla staff members on sale and two talks, by Leena
Tähtinen on Water on Mars, and by Rami Rekola on
Finland joining the European Southern Observatory. Congratulations to
all staff and students who participated on a great success!
- 15. 5. 2004 Welcome to Dr. Luisa Ostorero, who is
visiting Tuorla Observatory for six months starting from May 2004. She
is from Torino University, and is funded by the
program. She is studying quasars in the research group lead by Leo
Takalo and Aimo Sillanpää.
- 2. 5. 2004 Congratulations to VISPA PhD student Krista
Mäkinen, who has obtained 7000 euros from the Emil Aaltonen Foundation
and 7242 euros from the Turku University Foundation both towards her PhD
work. Krista is investigating the symbiotic binary star system R
- 1. 5. 2004 Congratulations to VISPA researcher Dr. Rami
Vainio, who has obtained 6000 euros from the Academy of Finland to support
travel and cooperation between VISPA and Bochum University's Department of
theoretical and space astrophysics. The collaboration studies plasma physics in
various astrophysical contexts.
- 22. 4. 2004 Congratulations to Dr. Laura Portinari, who has
received a three year position funded by the Academy of Finland. Laura works on
disk galaxies and stellar and galactic chemical evolution.
27. 3. 2004 Congratulations to Hannu Karttunen
whose new book on everyday physics has been published by
- 22. 3. 2004 Welcome to Dr. Eva Örndahl, who has
begun a post-doc position at Tuorla Observatory, working with Jari Kotilainen
on active galaxies. Eva comes to us from Uppsala Observatory in Sweden, and she
is supported by the Academy of Finland.
- 20. 3. 2004 Congratulations to Elina Lindfors, Mari Hanski,
Janne Holopainen and Eira Kotoneva who have been successful in applications
for funding support. Elina has obtained funds from the Magnus Ehrnrooth
foundation for travel to the MAGIC telescope in the Canary Islands. Mari won
funding from the Finnish Cultural Foundation of one year's salary, as did Janne
from the Magnus Ehrnrooth foundation, and Eira recieved funds from the Academy
of Finland for travel to observe low mass stars in China to use the Xinglong
2.16 meter Telescope. Congratulations to all four!
8. 3. 2004 Unique SiC Mirror to be made at Tuorla Observatory's OPTEON Lab.
Tuorla Observatory has won the contract to produce a 1.5 meter mirror
of Silicon Carbide for the European Space Agency's ALADIN project.
The mission is designed to make detailed studies of winds in the Earth's atmosphere.
- 10. 2. 2004 Welcome to Stefano Ciprini, who has taken up
a post-doc position at Tuorla Observatory. Stefano comes to us from Perugia
Observatory in Italy, and works on Active Galactic Nuclei. Stefano is supported
collaboration, a European funded scientific network.
- 10. 2. 2004 Chris Thom is visiting Tuorla Observatory for two
months to work on high velocity clouds and distant stars in our galaxy and will
be working with the DARKSTAR group. Chris visits us from the Astrophysics and
Supercomputing Centre at the University of Swinburne in Melbourne, Australia.
- 2. 2. 2004 Research Highlight
The Tuorla catalog of
BL Lacs in the RGB. A catalog of 100 BL Lac galaxies selected from the
ROSAT-Green Bank (RGB) survey has been imaged by VISPA researchers at the
Nordic Optical Telescope, and has been made available on-line. The research
team, lead by Dr. Kari Nilsson, used the very high imaging qualities of the
Nordic Optical Telescope, and were able to see the underlying galaxy in 62 of
the 100 targets, 37 of them never seen before.
- 2. 2. 2004 Dr. Laura Portinari has taken up a post-doc
position with the DARKSTAR group at Tuorla Observatory (Laura comes to us from
the Theoretical Astrophysics Center in Copenhagen). Among other things, Laura
works on disk galaxies; their formation, evolution and baryonic content. She
is supported by the Academy of Finland.
- 26. 1. 2004 Congratulations to VISPA researcher Jari
Kotilainen, who has been awarded a 5 year Senior Researcher position by the
Academy of Finland. These prestigious positions enable the awardee to undertake
pure research without teaching or administrative duties.
- 12. 1. 2004 A seminar series in space physics will be held at
the Space Research Laboratory in Spring
2004. Lectures in the program can be found here.
- 10. 1. 2004
part of a European Union scientific network, ENIGMA. Tuorla Observatory
is participating in a European wide research initiative into the physics of
Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). The team consists of 8 observatories in Germany,
Finland, Ireland, Greece and Italy. The research concentrates on getting
mutlifrequency data for AGN in dedicated campaigns from both ground based and
space based telescopes.
- 30-31. 10. 2003
Tuorla participates in the final seminar of the ANTARES research
program. The Academy of Finland and Tekes' ANTARES
research project has held the final seminar of the three year program at
Finlandia Talo in Helsinki. The research group DARKSTAR presented
the results of the program highlighting baryonic dark matter searches; massive
black holes in the Galactic halo and Helium production in the cosmos. The AGN
group showed the results of extensive monitoring of Active Galactic Nuclei
which will be an important foreground source in the European Space Agency's Planck
mission. VISPA was also on show at the Space 2003 exhibition at
the old Cable Factory in
here for some photos from the show. lisää
- 10. 10. 2003 MAGIC telescope
innaugurated. VISPA researchers attended the opening of the MAGIC
telescope, the world's largest atmospheric imaging Cherenkov telescope, with a
mirror surface in excess of 230 square meters. VISPA is one of the 14 (mostly
European) institutes involved. The main contribution of Tuorla Observatory to
the collaboration is the use of the 60 cm optical KVA telescope on La Palma in
connection with MAGIC observations. This will allow simultaneous optical and
- 6. 2003 Havaitseva tähtitiede (in
Finnish) by Kari Nilsson, Leo Takalo and Jukka Piironen, has been published by URSA. The book is a companion volume to the very popular "Fundamental Astronomy" by Hannu Karttunen; Karl Johan Donner,
Pekka Kröger, Heikki Oja and Markku Poutanen.
- 14. 6. 2003 Congratulations toTimo
Laitinen who has defended his Ph.D. thesis on Energetic Particle
Acceleration and Transport in Wave-Heated Solar Wind. Timo's opponent was
Professor Hannu Koskinen of Helsinki University.
- 10. 6. 2003 Congratulations
to Viatcheslav Koblik, who has successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on
Solar Sail Motion in near-sun Regions. The thesis studied methods of
getting a space probe around the solar system without an on-board propulsion
system, but rather through the pressure of the sunlight on large
"sails". Viatcheslav's PhD is one of the very few awarded in this area. It is
likely that such a cocept, which dates back already several hundred years, will
finally be realised in the near future (COSMOS 1).
Viatcheslav's thesis opponent was Professor Colin McInnes of
the University of Glasgow.
- 16. 5. 2003 VISPA Ph.D student Ramon
Brasser has defended his thesis onAspects of Solar System and Three-body
Dynamics. Ramon's thesis opponent was Professor Kimmo Innanen of York University in
Toronto. Ramon was supervised by Seppo Mikkola. Ramon has now taken up a
post-doc position at York University.
- 15. 12. 2002 Kaj Wiik
has defended his Ph.D. thesis entitled VLBI and Total Flux Density
Investigations of the Structure of Active Galactic Nuclei. He used VLBI
(Very Long Baseline Interferometry) techniques and compared radio flux
measurements and VLBI maps as well as gamma-ray emission to study Active
Galactic Nuclei. Kaj's opponent was Philip Edwards from Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical
- 4. 12. 2002
New detail has been observed in sunspots with a lens produced at Tuorla
Obsertvatory and installed recently in the Swedish Solar
Telescope. Tapio Korhonen, of Opteon, OY, stationed at Tuorla Observatory,
completed the lens for installation at the Swedish Solar Telescope at La Palma
in the Canary Islands in spring of 2002. Although the usable part of the lens
is 97 cm across, the lens is actually 110 cm in diamter and as such is the
largest ever produced. Congratulations to Tapio Korhonen. Images of the
lens under polishing (text in Finnish). lisää
9. 10. 2002 The Earth has a third satellite! VISPA researcher
Seppo Mikkola, working with researchers in Canada and the USA, has computed the
orbit of an asteroid, finding that it is a kind of natural satellite of the
Earth. Althought the asteroid is orbitting the Sun, it is in a peculiar and
practically unique resonance with the Earth so that it will, in a few hundred
years time, appear to go around the Earth. More
- 19. 5. 2003 Finnish Astrobiology Network
innaugurated. A meeting of a wide range of scientific disciplines was held at
the University of Turku; speakers working in mathematics, geology, plant
virology, astrophysics, ecology, chemistry and genetics addressed the topic of
life in the Universe.
- 10. 5. 2002 VISPA researcher Chris Flynn has been awarded a 5
year Senior Researcher position by the Academy of Finland. These prestigious
positions enable the awardee to undertake pure research without teaching or
administrative duties. Flynn spent part of the first year of the position on
sabbatical leave at the Swinburne University of Technology's Astrophysics and
Supercomputing Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
- 31. 3. 2002
Stellar pair set rotation record. An Anglo-Finnish research team have
discovered a binary star which has set a new record for the speed at which the
components are circling each other; just 5 minutes! The previous record until
now has been about twice as long for stellar systems of this type. The star was
found by VISPA researcher Pasi Hakala and researchers at the Mullard Space
Research Laboratory. The star in question, RXJ0806+15, is probably composed
of two so-called white dwarfs -- stars which have long since ceased to produce
their own energy by fusion as the Sun does. The components of the stars are
expected to merge together in about 100,000 years.
- 12. 1. 2002. Eira Kotoneva
has defended her Ph.D. thesis on the chemical
evolution of the Milky Way. Eira studied cool stars observed with the European
Space Agency's Hipparcos satellite. Professor Birgitta Nordström, of the
Astronomisk Observatorium in Copenhagen, Denmark.
- 10. 01. 2002
VISPA Professor Esko Valtaoja wins the prestigious Science Book of the Year
prize (Tieto-Finlandia) for his book Kotona
maailmankaikkeudessa (At home in the Cosmos). The book is published by Ursa. The book, discussing the possibility of
life in the universe in a witty style, was among the best-selling non-fiction
works of the year.
- 19. 12. 2001 Finland's first
astrobiology course attracts hundreds. "We had to move to a lecture hall
twice the size!" says University of Turku Professor of Space Astronomy Esko
Valtaoja, after more than 250 students turned up for the lecture course on
astrobiology organised by Valtaoja, Astrophysicist Dr. Harry Lehto, Plant
Virologist Dr. Kirsi Lehto and
plant physiologist and biophysicist Dr. Esa
- 15. 10. 2001
Vispa beats Nasa. Congratulations to Tapio Korhonen and Opteon OY,
hosted at Tuorla Observatory. Opteon has been awarded the contract to produce
the 3.5 metre Herschel-satellite
mirror, which will be launched aboard the satellite in 2007. The mirror will be
the largest ever produced of its kind - it is made from SiC, silicon carbide, a
uniquely stiff and light-weight material which may become the standard in
space-based mirrors. lisää
- 28. 8. 2001 Pasi Nurmi defends his
Ph.D. thesis on Solar System comets.
- 21. 7. 2001 Antti Anttila defends his
Ph.D. thesis on energetic particle bursts from the Sun.
- 19. 5. 2001 Mikko
Hanski awarded his Ph.D. thesis entitled : "A journey to
H0 and beyond via 6619 spiral galaxies."