PLANETESYS: The next-generation planet formation model

Project Details


The goal of this ERC Consolidator Grant proposal is to make significant contributions to our understanding of the formation of planetary systems and the chemical composition of planets. I will achieve this by developing a planet formation model that integrates the most relevant physical processes and combines the newly discovered pebble accretion mechanism with gravitational interaction between a high number of growing embryos. Exploiting the results of the computer simulations will allow me to address three major, outstanding research questions in the study of planets and their formation:

What are the dominant physical processes that shape planetary systems?

How are solids flash-heated in protoplanetary discs?

What are the conditions for forming habitable planets?

I will follow the chemical composition of solid bodies in a protoplanetary disc as they grow from dust grains to fully fledged planets. This will shed light on the formation pathways of all major planetary classes – from terrestrial planets, over super-Earths to ice giants and gas giants – in orbital configurations acquired under the combined effects of planetary growth, migration and gravitational interaction between the developing planets. I will examine the role of the CO ice line as a nursery for planetary embryos that grow and migrate to form cold gas giants akin to Jupiter and Saturn in our Solar System. I will also explore the formation of the mysterious chondrules – widespread in primitive meteorites – by lightning discharge during planetesimal formation and address the role of chondrules for planet formation. Finally, I will simulate the delivery of life-essential volatiles to terrestrial planets and super-Earths in the habitable zone, considering the simultaneous growth of rocky and icy planetary embryos and gravitational stirring by migrating giant planets, for a wide range of planetary system architectures.
StatusNot started


  • European Commission - Horizon 2020