Cosmic ray researcher Taavi Tuvi received the Jaan Einasto international scholarship

Kairi Janson | 27.11.2017

On November 15, the 2017 Jaan Einasto international scholarship was granted at Tartu Observatory. This year’s laureateis Taavi Tuvi,physics PhD student at University of Tartu, to whom the scholarship gives the opportunity to visit the Pisa physics group in Italy.


“I am very glad to have received the scholarship,” Tuvi said. One of the subjects that Italian physicists are at the forefront of is astro-particle physics, which is Tuvi’s research topic. Therefore Tuvi hopes to develop relations with the group and find ways to work together in the future.

As modern physics in general, astro-particle physics is a field where international co-operation is key. “Almost all of the notable observations have been international co-operations because it is beyond one’s power to build necessary telescopes or detectors alone,” Tuvi stated. At the same time, more accurate observation data requires better and often more complicated models from theorists.

The topic of Tuvi’s PhD project is “Signals of New Physics from Cosmic Rays“. The physics of cosmic rays is similar to particle physics. „Cosmic rays are basically nothing else than very high energy particles that come from deep space,“ Tuvi explained.

Most of those particles are the same protons that are accelerated at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). Unlike the highly controlled CERN laboratory, cosmic-ray physics requires taking astrophysics and significantly more complex measuring conditions into account.

Tuvi’s goal is basically the same as the one of the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC): to find signs of possible new particles. „Physicists – that also includes us – are especially interested in finding particles of dark matter,“ he stated. This is one of the facts that makes Tuvi’s project interesting for himself: he gets to research dark matter as the greatest mystery of modern physics.

Tuvi says astro-particle physics has multiple advantages compared to the LHC. “There are processes in the Universe that can accelerate particles to much higher energies than humans possibly ever will,“ Tuvi said. Other than that, the processes connected to cosmic rays occur on a galactic and even larger scale. Therefore even a tiny contribution to the new physics of the cosmic ray features can become measurable.

The Jaan Einasto scholarship was granted for the third time. This year, the applicants had to be either PhD students or researchers at University of Tartu or Tartu Observatory who aimed at international co-operation in their research or young researchers from foreign universities who were coming to perform research at University of Tartu or Tartu Observatory. The applicant’s research had to be related to astronomy or space technology.