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1. Course title

Advanced Space Plasma Physics
Advanced Space Plasma Physics
Advanced Space Plasma Physics

2. Course code


Aikaisemmat leikkaavat opintojaksot 53766 Avaruusfysiikan jatkokurssi, 10 op.

3. Course status: optional

-Which degree programme is responsible for the course?
Master’s Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences          

-Which module does the course belong to?
PAP300 Advanced Studies in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences (optional for Study Track in Astrophysical Sciences)

-Is the course available to students from other degree programmes?

4. Course level (first-, second-, third-cycle/EQF levels 6, 7 and 8)

Master’s level, degree programmes in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine = secondcycle
degree/EQF level 7
Doctoral level = third-cycle (doctoral) degree/EQF level 8

-Does the course belong to basic, intermediate or advanced studies (cf. Government Decree
on University Degrees)?
Advanced studies

5. Recommended time/stage of studies for completion

-The recommended time for completion may be, e.g., after certain relevant courses have
been completed.

6. Term/teaching period when the course will be offered

The course will be offered in the spring term, in III and IV periods.

7. Scope of the course in credits

10 cr

8. Teacher coordinating the course

Emilia Kilpua

9. Course learning outcomes

  • You will obtain in-depth understanding of several space plasma physical phenomena giving a good background for research work in space physics or other related fields
  • You will obtain skills to solve analytically many theoretically demanding problems, for examples solving of the dispersion equation and Landau damping from the Vlasov theory, charged particle drift speeds in time and spatially varying electromagnetic fields and in current sheets, conditions and growth rates of several plasma instabilities, and solving shocks/instabilities from Rankine-Hugoniot equations
  • You will obtain deep conceptual understanding and knowledge of theory behind several key space plasma physical phenomena, such magnetic reconnection, force-free fields, flux ropes, magnetic helicity, shock acceleration of charged particles, solar dynamo, scattering and transport. 

10. Course completion methods

contact teaching, but can be also taken as a distance learning course

11. Prerequisites

  • Good knowledge of electrodynamics (e.g.,  Electrodynamics I and II), thermodynamics/statistical physics and readiness to use standard mathematical methods of physics (e.g., Mathematical Methods of Physics I-II)
  • Plasma Physics, or knowledge of similar level on plasma phyiscs


  • 12. Recommended optional studies
  • Solar Physics
  • Numerical Space Physics

13. Course content

These lectures are intended to advanced undergraduate and post-graduate students interested in space physics, plasma physics, applications of electrodynamics, statistical physics, hydrodynamics, etc. The course starts with plasma fundamentals, reviewing the basic concepts and looks more in depth to plasma distribution functions. The other topics include

  • A detailed description of charged particle motion in electromagnetic fields, including time and spatially varying fields, including adiabatic invariants, motion in current sheets, and galactic cosmic rays will be covered.
  • The wave propagation in dielectric media, the main focus being on propagation through the layered ionosphere, but cold plasma wave theory will be briefly revised.
  • A detailed coverage of the Vlasov theory and Landau damping
  • A brief revision of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) theory, the main focus will be put on subjects like force-free fields, flux ropes in space plasmas and magnetic helicity.
  • Plasma Instabilities (micro- and macroinstabilities)
  • Theory of collisionless shocks waves, dissipation of shocks, shock acceleration and solar energetic particles
  • Magnetic reconnection (both theory and observations in space plasmas)
  • Basics of solar dynamo
  • Radiation and scattering (e.g., Bremsstrahlung, cyclotron and synchrotron)
  • Transport (Fokker-Planck theory)

14. Recommended and required literature


  • Lecture notes


Other recommended material

  • Koskinen, H. E. J., Physics of Space Storms, Springer/PRAXIS, 2011
  • Baumjohann, W., Treumann, R., Basic Space Plasma Physics, Imperial College Press, 1996.
  • Kivelson, M. G., and Russell (eds.), C. T., Introduction to Space Physics, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • Russell, C.T., Luhmann, J.G., Strangeway, R.J., Space Physics: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press
  • Treumann, R., and Baumjohann, W. Advanced Space Plasma Physics, Imperial College Press, 1997.

15. Activities and teaching methods in support of learning

  • lectures
  • Weekly exercises. Weekly exercises include also reading of scientific articles related to the course themes (+ answering questions/making summaries based on them)
  • Possible seminar

16. Assessment practices and criteria, grading scale

  • Final grade is based on exercises (40%) and final exam (60%).

17. Teaching language


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