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ERC grant to increase knowledge of how planets are formed

Anders Johansen, senior lecturer at the Department of Astronomy and Theoretical Physics at Lund University, has been awarded the European Research Council’s Consolidator Grant. The funds, almost EUR 2 million over five years, are to be used to increase knowledge of how planetary systems occur and why various types of planets are formed.
Anders Johansen. Photo: Lena Björk Blixt
Anders Johansen. Photo: Lena Björk Blixt

The grant from the European Research Council enables the development of a completely new computer program capable of simulating how entire planetary systems are formed.

Astronomers currently know about several thousand exoplanets which revolve around stars other than our own sun. Some such planetary systems contain for example a gas planet similar to Jupiter, but which orbits extremely close to the star itself, whereas other systems consist of many planets which can be compared to super-Earths whose mass is up to ten times that of our own planet.

“I am going to try to understand how and why these various types of planets and systems form. I am going to find out how the planets affect one another when they grow and which planets are formed within the same system. I hope to be able to understand what factors play a role in the formation of planetary systems such as our own solar system, which consists of rock planets such as the Earth in its inner part and the gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn in its outer part,” says Anders Johansen.

Among other costs, the grant from the ERC will finance four new employment positions over four years, one doctoral student and three postdocs.

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