Initial Conditions of the Birthplaces of Planets

For understanding how planets and planetary systems form it is essential to have knowledge of the formation, structure and evolution of the planetary birthplaces themselves: the protostellar/protoplanetary disks surrounding newly formed stars. Several theoretical studies have found that even in their later stages, the properties of these disks still have a 'memory' of the star+disk formation process that happened a few million years earlier. The evolution of protoplanetary disks can therefore not be considered independently of the star formation process that preceded it. This is a complex problem, because the initial conditions for the formation of individual stars are closely linked to the dynamical environment of the nascent star cluster. Indeed, most stars form in a clustered environment, where mutual interactions may drastically alter the evolutionary properties of protostellar disks and their ability to give birth to planets and planetary systems. It is the goal of this project to theoretically investigate the connection between (a) the star formation process in a turbulent molecular cloud environment, (b) the formation and early evolution of a protostellar/protoplanetary disk, and (c) the early planet formation processes studied in this Forschergruppe. We intend to do this by performing high-precision two-dimensional (2D) radiation hydrodynamics simulations of the collapse of rotating protostellar cores to follow the build-up and early evolution of protostellar and protoplanetary accretion disks. We will use data from three-dimensional (3D) simulations of molecular cloud fragmentation and prestellar core formation to provide realistic initial conditions for these simulations. Our 2D scheme is very fast and we can scan a wide range of parameters. This will permit us to understand the effect of environment on disk evolution and planet formation and to address questions such as what are the initial conditions for planet formation, or how the planet formation process depends on environment of the nascent star, and so forth. This project will help projects from the C and D catagories define their disk structures.

Principle Investigators

Prof. Dr. Ralf Klessen
Dr. Cornelis Dullemond
Dr. Simon Glover