Star and Planet Formation Research Group
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The PLANET-Z Initiative

Who we are...

PLANET-Z is an interdisciplinary research project with the goal of answering fundamental questions concerning the formation and evolution of planetary systems with the ultimate goal of addressing the potential for life to develop on habitable worlds. It is comprised of experts from a diverse set of backgrounds relevant to understanding planet formation and their subsequent evolution.

PLANET-Z brings together colleagues from the Institute for Astronomy (ETH, D-PHYS), Institute of Geophysics (ETH, ERDW), the Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology (ETH, ERDW), and the Institute for Theoretical Physics (UniZ). We also maintain excellent connections with colleagues in the Space and Planetary Science Institute (UniB), and the Geneva Observatory (UniG) with related interests. Our work builds on the successful INIT project led by S. Lilly (Astro, ETH) and D. Giardini (ERDW, ETH) which culminated in the very successful Ascona Conference in 2008.

Our research is currently supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, as well as internal funds.

What we do...

Our current work is focussed on:
  • Observations of the structure and evolution of circumstellar disks around young stars constraining theories of planet formation (ASTRO, D-PHYS, ETH)
  • High contrast imaging searches for exoplanets on ground- and space- based telescopes (ASTRO, D-PHYS, ETH)
  • Cosmo-chemical laboratory study of solar system materials to constrain the timescales and physical conditions of planet-forming events (GeoPetro, ERDW, ETH)
  • Empirical and numerical studies of the structure and evolution of the Earth and other planets (Geophys, ERDW, ETH)
  • Theoretical and numerical modeling of the formation of gas giant and terrestrial planets (ITP, UniZ)


We meet twice during the semester (four times per year) for workshops on focussed topics as well as throughout the year for special seminars and meetings. Please visit the list of upcoming events. If you are interested in visiting, please contact a relevant member of one of our research groups.

If you would link to join our email list, please register your email address with the PLANET-Z mailing list.