Earth and Planetary Systems Science Section
The Earth and planetary systems science section focuses on research and education in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, geochemistry, paleobiology and sedimentology. Using a multidisciplinary approach, we study Sun-like stars and their planetary systems, including our solar system, to understand the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets as well as the history of the Earth and the life it supports.
As far as we know, our solar system is unique. It could, in principle, be the only planetary system in the Universe to harbour intelligent life or, indeed, life at all. Thus, understanding the circumstances that allowed for the formation of habitable planets and life is a key objective of our research. To address this goal, we use astronomical observations as well as theoretical and computational astrophysics to study the formation history of Sun-like stars and their accretion disks, including the distribution of potentially habitable worlds in the Galaxy. Direct information about the solar system comes from the chemical and isotopic analyses of meteorites, which allows our cosmochemists to reconstruct the formation and evolution of the solar system, including the accretion and differentiation of asteroidal and planetary bodies. Finally, ancient terrestrial rocks provide our paleobiologists and sedimentologists with a historical record of life and the dynamic evolution of Earth’s climate.
- Star and planet formation
- Formation and evolution of the solar system
- Early Earth evolution
- Ancient depositional environments and climate
- Origin and diversification of life