Host institution:University Grenoble Alpes
Call for Projects: Consolidator (PE9)
Project name: PROTOPLANETS – Establishing a global observational view of the early stages of planet formation and evolution
Amount: 1.67 M€
Recent observing campaigns have revealed a great diversity in exoplanetary systems whose origin is yet to be understood. How and when planets form, and how they evolve and interact with their birth environment, the protoplanetary disks, are major open questions. Protoplanetary disks evolve and dissipate rapidly while planets are forming, implying a direct feedback between the processes of planet formation and disk evolution. Observing protoplanets still in the early stages of formation and studying their imprints on the disk structure is therefore crucial. PROTOPLANETS aims to establish a global observational picture of the early stages of planetary systems formation and evolution. My team and I will analyze cutting-edge observations on a large sample of protoplanetary disks, calibrated with novel data processing technics and modelled in the light of state-of-the-art simulations, to: (1) search for giant protoplanets still embedded in disks; (2) study the imprints of planet-disk interactions and their dependence on stellar/disk properties; (3) reveal the impact of planets on the disk structure and dust evolution; (4) determine the conditions for terrestrial planet formation in the inner disk regions. The overall ambition of PROTOPLANETS is to understand the diversity of exoplanetary systems by linking the properties of protoplanets with those of the inner and outer disk regions. The project builds on a novel methodology to detect giant protoplanets and at the same time, characterize the birth environment shaped by those planets. As demonstrated by our recent discovery of the first protoplanet imaged in a disk, the direct detection and characterization of protoplanets will be a major breakthrough, enabling probing of processes of planet formation that could only be addressed theoretically before. The properties of such forming planets, constrained by the proposed research, will offer key insights into the timescales, location and processes of planet formation.