Three fascinating facts about space – which mystery would space researcher Joni Tammi like to understand?
Joni Tammi, Director of Metsähovi Radio Observatory, started his career as an astronomer already on the first grade when he gave his class a presentation about stars. Since then, all the choices in his studies steered him towards a career as a space researcher.
During his studies, Tammi familiarised with the use of computer simulation in space research on a course taught by Esko Valtaoja. Tammi was mesmerised by the simulations of colliding galaxies even though they were still relatively simple at the time. He decided to focus on theoretical astrophysics and the modelling of space phenomena.
Tammi sees space as part of our environment which we do not yet understand well enough. What is it about space that fascinates him so much?
‘I remember reading an encyclopaedia at my grandparents’ as a child. It instructed how planets’ trajectories can be demonstrated by cutting a cone from different directions. Planets move in ellipses whereas distant comets make a hyperbola when approaching the Sun. It is astonishing how the movement of such massive planets can follow mathematical shapes. The beauty of mathematics and physics still fascinates me as an adult.’
‘Another thing that appeals to me about space is its vastness or, in contrast, smallness of the humankind. It’s comforting to know that you’re so small. No matter how badly you screw up, it always helps to just look up and think that from a height of two hundred kilometres, your problems could no longer be seen.’
The beauty of mathematics and physics still fascinates me as an adult.
‘The third highlight is in the future. I am interested in finding out how the forces created by black holes turn into light and radio emissions. We have now seen a picture of a black hole, and we know that jets emitted by black holes send particles moving almost at the speed of light and make them radiate strongly. However, we don’t understand the process that leads to this. In order to obtain this information, we need simultaneous observations on several frequencies and over a long period of time. Sadly, this is not possible with contemporary equipment.’
Find out more about the new type of receiver that has been developed in South Korea in recent years and what can be done with it at Metsähovi. To acquire the device, we need the help of donors.