National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS
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Formation & Evolution

Introduction

Project  Leader: Prof. Willy Benz

Together with the observations shifting their focus from discovery to characterisation of exoplanets, a similar transition needs to be achieved in the theory of planet formation and evolution. Planets should no longer be characterized by only a few basic properties (e.g. mass, orbit), but should be considered as objects with structures (e.g. core, mantle, surface, atmosphere), whose properties and interactions need to be investigated. For this, one has to consider the complex interplay between formation, during which planets acquire their bulk properties, and evolution that ultimately determines their present characteristics and their potential habitability.

The goal of this project and the companion project “Numerical Laboratories” is to develop integrated theoretical planet formation-evolution models with the aim at being able to describe the physical and chemical conditions on the surface of exoplanets. Practically, the work to be performed has been divided in two sub-projects.

page

From planet formation to mature planets
(top: protoplanetary Disk of HL Tauri; bottom: artist impression of the rocky super_Earth HD 85512b) (Credit: ALMA and ESO)

Sub-projects

Global structure of planetary systems – A statistical approach

Prof. Yann Alibert

In this sub-project the planetary system is considered globally with the aim at predicting/understanding mean or bulk properties such as masses, orbital parameters, mean density (or total radius), mean composition (not considering the possible partitioning of elements between atmosphere and core), luminosity, etc… For this multi-dimensional synthetic end-to-end planet formation and evolution models will be developed.

Characteristics of planets: Internal structure and atmosphere

Prof. Kevin Heng

In this sub-project, the focus is on a detailed characterisation of the exoplanets, whose global properties will be computed as a result of sub-project 1. The ultimate aim is to characterise the surface properties of individual exoplanets. For this, the dynamics and bulk composition of exoplanet atmospheres, taking into account atmosphere-interior exchanges as well as atmospheric loss due to evaporation, will be computed.

News

On the variety of asteroid interiors (4/15/2016) - Asteroid interiors in the early solar system – from fluffy snowballs to internal magma oceans In the nascent solar system, the building blocks of terrestrial...
Supernova ejecta pollute young planetary systems (8/10/2016) - The early phase of star and planet formation can be very violent. Usually, dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of stars are born closely together in...

Team

Science Officer / Project Leader P2.5
+41 31 631 55 47
SNSF Ambizione Fellow / CSH Fellow
Associate
+41 31 631 37 03
PhD Student
Associate
+41 31 631 31 72
PhD Student
Associate
+41 31 631 52 43
PostDoc
Associate
+41 31 631 84 65
PostDoc
Associate
+41 31 631 46 45
Project Leader P3.5
Associate
+41 31 631 51 57
CSH Fellow / Gruber Foundation Fellow
+41 31 631 34 43
PostDoc
Associate
+41 31 631 56 27
PhD Student
Associate
+41 31 631 44 57
Project leader P3.1 / P3.8
+41 31 631 59 18
Senior Researcher
+41 31 631 85 49
PhD Student
Associate
+41 31 631 34 49
PhD Student
Associate
+41 31 631 36 37
PostDoc
Associate
+41 31 631 47 36
PhD Student
Associate
+41 31 631 45 35
PhD Student
Associate
+41 31 631 34 44
Senior Researcher
+41 44 633 27 58

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