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Exoplanets and planet formation

At the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy we study the formation and evolution of planets from protoplanetary disks to fully formed planets around mature stars. Using observations from ground-based and space observatories, together with state-of-the-art theoretical modeling, we explore the remarkable diversity and complexity of protoplanetary disks and exoplanets discovered in recent years. Eventually, we hope to address the key question of how common are planets that might harbor life.

Disk around the star HD 135344B. Credit: ESO, T. Stolker et al.

Studying young stars enables us to investigate all stages of planet formation, from planet-forming disks, to dust and debris disks and the youngest protoplanets. As observational techniques evolve, the study of exoplanetary atmospheres has begun to be possible, greatly enhancing our ability to investigate the properties of planets and planetary systems around more mature stars. As we gain more detailed observations, we can improve our theoretical understanding of how planets form and evolve. 

The API disk and planet formation research group focuses on the evolution of protoplanetary disks through all stages of planet formation. Specifically, in the past years, significant results have been achieved in understanding the chemistry, geometry and dynamics of planet-forming disks through theoretical modelling, as well as imaging and spectroscopy campaigns. The exoplanet group pursues research into the dynamics and chemistry of exoplanet atmospheres. Spectroscopic observations from the ultraviolet to the infrared wavelength range, using some of the world’s most powerful observational facilities, is one of the key areas of expertise in this group. Theoretical work includes detailed characterization of exoplanet atmospheres from their observed spectra, thus connecting the properties of planets to their formation and evolution mechanisms. We work in close collaboration with de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and with SRON in the 'Are we Alone?' project.

Keywords

Exoplanets, young stars, planet formation, protoplanetary discs, atmospheres, Earth-like planets

Facilities

Now: VLT, HST, WHT, Kepler, TESS
Future: E-ELT, JWST

Leading Scientists

 

Dr. J.M.L.B. (Jean-Michel) Desert

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Prof. dr. C. (Carsten) Dominik

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Dr. A. (Antonija) Oklopčić

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Research Associates

Dr. rer. nat. C. (Christian) Ginski

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

PhD Candidates

Mr S. (Saugata) Barat

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Ms C.J. (Claire) Baxter MSc

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Mr B.P.J. (Bob) Jacobs

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Mr B.P.J. (Bob) Jacobs

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Ms N. (Niloofar) Khorshid

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Mr D.C. (Dion) Linssen BSc

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Ms G.A. (Gabriela) Muro Arena MSc

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Mr V. (Vatsal) Panwar

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Mr P.G. (Per-Gunnar) Valegård

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy

Mr R.G. (Rico) Visser MSc

Faculty of Science

Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy