To understand how planets form it is crucial to find the link between the great variety in the properties of extrasolar planets and the diverse physical and chemical conditions in their parental disks. In particular, the disk total mass and turbulent viscosity seems to be the fundamental parameters in constraining the frequency and mass of planets. The aim of my work is therefore the determination of disk masses and the characterization of their turbulent state. To pursue this goal I follow several approaches, such as using molecular tracers such as CO isotopologues and HD. However, each one of these tracers presents several complications and a deeper knowledge of the disk chemistry and thermal structure is necessary. An alternative approach would be the use of the dust structure given by the analysis of NIR scattered light and multi-wavelength observation of the dust structure. If successful this novel technique, independent from other mass estimates, would provide us a powerful tool in constraining disk properties.
Dr. Jiao He
I carry out experiments in the Origin of Life Laboratory to study the physics and chemistry on and in astrophysically relevant ices. Mixed ices are present on dust grains in the interstellar medium, in protoplanetary disks, as well as in the planetary system. Simple radicals and molecules diffuse on the ice surface and form increasingly more complex molecules. I use a UHV system with two atomic/molecular beamlines to study the formation route of various molecules and quantify the physical parameters that govern the efficiency of the chemical reactions, such as reaction energy barrier, desorption and diffusion energies. I also study chemistry in ice mixtures under irradiations and identify complex organic molecules that are of prebiotic significance.
Dr. Paul Mollière
I am working on coupling the formation of planets to their observable spectra. This project contains many sub-fields and challenges, including to find appropriate descriptions of disk chemical models, the properties of solid mass reservoirs in the disk, planet formation, planet interior modeling, and finally atmospheric modeling of exoplanets. My “native” research filed is the modeling of planetary atmospheres (their thermal and chemical structure) as well as calculating their spectra. I calculate these spectra by using either physically self-consistent structures from my atmospheric modeling, or by freely parameterizing the atmospheric properties in so-called free retrievals, where the observations ultimately guide us to reveal which parameters are most consistent with the observations. For coupling planet formation and spectra I will collaborate with experts at the MPIA and other institutions that investigate disk chemistry, planet formation and planet interior modeling.