Today, we know that planets are common astronomical objects that are very diverse in terms of masses, sizes, and compositions. We still don’t know, however, how planets form. Understanding planet formation is important to understand the origin of our own planetary system, and to estimate the likelihood to find Earth-analogs around other stars. We also explore the planetary internal structure determining the compositions of planets inside and outside the Solar System.
Key question we aim to answer include:
- How do planets form?
- How can we link planetary composition with planetary formation?
- What physical processes affect the evolution and final structure/composition of planets?
- What are the compositions of the planets in the Solar System?
- What determines the final architecture of planetary systems?
- Is our Solar System unique?
- What are the ideal conditions for the emergence of life in planetary objects?
Our groups at ICS study different aspects and stages in planetary formation, starting from the formation and evolution of protoplanetary disks, where planets form. The growth of planetesimal and planetary embryos, the formation of the Earth-moon system as well the dynamical evolution of young planetary systems. We also investigate formation and evolution of giant and intermediate-mass planets and the characterisation of planets inside and outside the Solar System (exoplanets). The studies include numerical simulations, semi-analytical calculations, interpretation of space data, etc. Our group members are involved in various space missions including missions to explore Jupiter (Juno) and its satellite system (JUICE), and space missions aimed to characterise exoplanets (PLATO, ARIEL).