Planets are the most familiar astrophysical objects: we live on one of them and we know well the ones belonging to our planetary system. The first observational evidence of an extra solar planet came in 1995, when 51 Pegasi b was detected around a sun-like star, earning the Nobel Prize to Mayor & Queloz. Up to now we have observed thousands of exo-planetary systems whose architectures are extremely different from our own. In order to understand this plethora of configurations we need to investigate the birthplace of planets, that are accretion discs around protostars. With the advent of ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre Array) we are now able to directly observe protostellar discs with an unprecedent level of details. These observations, together with the development of theoretical models, give us insights about star and planet formation.
We study the hydrodynamics of accretion discs by means of hydrodynamical models based on analytical methods and numerical simulations carried out with the SPH code Phantom, co-developed by our research group. Our research focuses on accretion discs gravitational instability, planet-disc interaction, dust dynamics and the dynamics of multiple stellar systems in accretion. Despite the theoretical focus of our research, we are also involved in several observational projects.
We are the coordinators of the MSCA-RISE Network Dustbusters, a global network of astronomical research institutes dedicated to the study of these phenomena. We thus collaborate with the major institutes of our field, both inside the Dustbusters network (Ecole Normale Superieur de Lyon, European Southern Observatory, University of Cambridge, Leicester University, Monash University, University of Arizona, University of Hawaii, Universidad de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile) and with other institutions, such as Université Grenoble Alpes in Grenoble, the Italian INAF (through the JeDi consortium), and Leiden University.
People working on this topic: Giuseppe Lodato, Claudia Toci, Simone Ceppi, Pietro Curone, Stefano Facchini, Cristiano Longarini and Giovanni Rosotti.
Former members: Alessia Franchini, Enrico Ragusa, Hossam Aly, Giovanni Dipierro, Maria Giulia Ubeira Gabellini.