Exoplanets and Planet Formation

Earth is still the only habitable place in the Solar system as far as we know. How can we find another habitable planet? This fundamental question drives us to study planetary systems beyond the Solar system. Observations over the past decade have revealed that planetary systems are ubiquitous in the Universe. The next goal is to identify if any habitable worlds exist. To achieve this goal, we need to understand the whole history of how planets form and evolve. Planets form in gas-and dust-rich circumstellar disks around young stars. The physical and chemical properties of these disks determine fundamental features of a planetary system, from the number of giant and rocky planets, to the amount of life-crucial elements in the planetary cores and atmospheres. Therefore, we strive to constrain the properties of these disks and to identify how life-crucial elements flow into planets during planet formations.

Research group run by Ke Zhang.