The PlanetS Domain 1 research opportunities
I could attend at the NCCR general assembly in Grindelwald the first science meeting of the future PlanetS Domain 1 on “Early stages of planet formation”. I followed the presentations from the different research projects with much interest and I expected quite a heterogeneous program about proto-planetary disks and the initial condition for planet formation.
And indeed, the research methods described by the participants could not be more different. There are the “observers”, who investigate the geometry of proto-planetary disks with polarimetric imaging of the light scattered by the dust, or who analyse the chemistry of the disk gas by ALMA emission line spectroscopy.
The second group are the “modelers”, who study proto-planetary disks with innovative computer simulations, describing the interaction between the gas and dust particles and investigating for example, the radial drifting of pebbles and their accumulation in vortices.
The third group are the “laboratory astrophysicist” who analyse the properties of meteorites and icy surfaces in the solar system. The meteorites, especially the chondrules, are very prestine particles formed shortly after the emergence of the protosolar nebula, and therefore they tell us a lot about the composition and chemistry of the gas and solids at the time when the planets in the solar system formed. The studies on icy particles and surfaces, which are ubiquitous in proto-planetary disks, help us to define their remote sensing properties like reflectivity, and how they are altered by different physical processes such as sublimation if they pass through the ice line.
The main Domain 1 research goal of explaining the birth of planetary systems, including of course the solar system, was omnipresent in all talks, despite the completely different research methods used in the individual project. It was obvious that each group provides very complementary and most important contributions for a better understanding of the complicated planet formation process. Since this meeting I am very excited about the many attractive possibilities for collaborations in Domain 1 and I am looking forward to common future research projects. This is a great and unique opportunity for interdisciplinary collaborations available thanks to the NCCR PlanetS.
Hans Martin Schmid