Planet and Star Formation

We study the formation of stars on all scales and the birth of planetary systems and their evolution. The Department established observational programs to search for extrasolar planets and to characterize their properties. We investigate the chemical and physical state of the interstellar medium, including dedicated laboratory experiments where we study the formation of complex organic molecules and cpsmic dust analogues.

Star formation is a key process in the universe, shaping the structure of entire galaxies and driving their chemical evolution and, at the same, providing the conditions for the formation of planets. Our goal is to understand the different modes of star formation, from massive star clusters to more isolated groups of low-mass stars.

We want to unravel the mysteries of planet formation which starts from tiny dust grains and ends with the formation of giant planets and their migration in gas disks. At the same time, we are developing new search strategies for brown dwarfs and exoplanets and begin to characterize their atmospheres. We also develop new search strategies for brown dwarfs and exoplanets and begin to characterize their atmospheres.

To this end, we combine multi-wavelength observations from large ground-based telescopes and space-born infrared observatories with large-scale numerical simulations on supercomputers, theoretical models, and dedicated laboratory experiments. Our research places extreme demands on observational techniques, pushing available angular resolution, dynamic range, and spectral resolving power to their limits. We help develop and construct astronomical instruments to meet these demanding requirements. Our specialty are adaptive optics and interferometry for ground-based observations, and sensitive space-based infrared instruments.

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