Space Plasma Simulations with Vlasiator on LUMI Supercomputer

Plasma is one of four fundamental states of matter, characterized by the presence of a significant portion of charged particles in any combination of ions or electrons. Plasma is a powerful phase of matter as it is key to many applications and technologies, from astrophysics to space physics, from clean energy production based on fusion to compact and cheap particle accelerators. However, it is still a mysterious phase of matter as its dynamics is inherently nonlinear, multidimensional and multiscale.

The theoretical description of plasma using analytic modeling tools is somewhat limited and great progress in plasma physics has been achieved using computer simulations. Indeed, advances in massively parallel simulations using high performance computing (HPC) resources have have further boosted our understanding of plasma science at an unprecedented resolutions and levels of physical fidelity. These simulations have been producing a new wealth of knowledge and enabling key applications for science, industry, and society.

Plasma-PEPSC (Plasma Exascale-Performance Simulation Centre) is a European Centre of Excellence leading plasma science into the era of exascale computing to drive scientific breakthroughs in plasma science’s most significant challenges (fusion energy, accelerator devices and space physics) through cutting-edge hardware and software advancements. The overarching goal of Plasma-PEPSC is to take this technological development to the next level, enabling unprecedented simulations on current pre-exascale and future exascale platforms across Europe. Four flagship plasma codes with a large user base – BIT, GENE, PIConGPU, and Vlasiator – serve as the focal points of the centre of excellence. By maximising their parallel performance and efficiency, we aim to achieve breakthroughs in controlling plasma-material interfaces, optimising magnetically confined fusion plasmas, designing next-generation plasma accelerators and predicting space plasma dynamics within the Earth’s magnetosphere.

**Vlasiator** (GitHub) is the state-of-the-art hybrid-Vlasov simulation for ion-scale physics in a global magnetospheric setting. It is the only 6D hybrid-Vlasov code capable of simulating the Earth’s magnetosphere. In Vlasiator, ions are represented as velocity distribution functions, while electrons are a massless charge-neutralizing fluid, enabling a self-consistent global plasma simulation that can describe multi-temperature plasmas to resolve non-MHD processes that currently cannot be self-consistently described by the existing global space weather simulations. The novelty is that by modelling ions as velocity distribution functions the outcome will be numerically noiseless. Due to the multi-dimensional approach at ion scales, Vlasiator’s computational challenges are immense. Advanced HPC techniques will be adopted using tens of thousands of cores to perform massively parallel computations.


  • PhD students, postdocs, industry engineers

  • Basic familiarity with general physics and plasma physics

  • Some previous practical experience running some CFD code

  • Basic familiarity with Unix shell and HPC environment

  • Some materials towards advanced users

20 min


Who is the course for?

This hybrid workshop will bring together code developers, researchers, and research software engineers working on plasma science, and create an amazing opportunity for sharing innovative ideas and best practice for potential users to use the Vlasiator package and using its capabilities and assorted tools for data analysis.

About the course

This workshop includes:

  • running simulations at scale

  • benchmarking for deploying Vlasiator on supercomputing environments

  • designing a simulation setup, with notes on applicability and resources required

  • Accessing the .vlsv data via Analysator

  • Accessing the .vlsv data via the VisIt plugin

After attending this workshop, you will:

  • Understand core features of the Vlasiator package

  • Be efficient using the Vlasiator package to perform plasma simulations

  • Be productive in data analysis and visualization of simulation results

  • Be able to create your own project

See also


The lesson file structure and browsing layout is inspired by and derived from work by CodeRefinery licensed under the MIT license. We have copied and adapted most of their license text.

Instructional Material

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