Center for Star and Planet Formation

Planet formations at UCPH

Research director of Center for Star and Planet Formation, Professor Martin Bizzarro

The Centre for Star and Planet Formation aims to explore the origin and evolution of planetary systems from a dynamic perspective by integrating the disciplines of cosmochemistry, astronomy and astrophysics. We hope to understand the circumstances that allowed for the formation of the terrestrial planets in our solar system, including the preservation of water worlds like Earth, where life has been thriving for nearly 4 billion years.

Research focus

Is the formation of rocky planets and habitable worlds – and hence life – a predictable outcome of all planetary systems? This question sets the stage for the main research focus of the Centre for Star and Planet Formation. We aim to elucidate the sequence of events leading to the formation and evolution of Sun-like stars and their disks, including the circumstances favourable to the formation of habitable worlds.

“Our ultimate goal is to determine whether planetary systems hosting habitable worlds are common in the galaxy”, says Professor and Centre leader Martin Bizzarro.

Our objectives are achieved by integrating high-precision isotope studies of extraterrestrial materials with astrophysical models and astronomical observations. This innovative and multidisciplinary approach places our centre in a unique position amongst research groups in the field of planetary sciences.

Main findings

Rocky planets like Earth and Mars formed by the rapid accumulation of millimetre-sized pebbles during the lifetime of the solar disk:
Isotopic evolution of the protoplanetary disk and the building blocks of Earth and the Moon

Mars developed surface conditions amiable to life much earlier than Earth, implying that life in our Solar System may have first evolved on Mars:
Evidence for extremely rapid magma ocean crystallization and crust formation on Mars

Some meteorites are samples of asteroids formed in the outermost Solar System and preserve a record of the organic chemistry necessary for life:
Isotopic evidence for primordial molecular cloud material in metal-rich carbonaceous chondrites