ERC Starting Grant for Joanna Drążkowska

Joanna Drążkowska has received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for her research on "Planetoids". Joanna works as a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Til Birnstiel, one of the principal investigators of ORIGINS, at the LMU University Observatory. Her research helps improve our fundamental understanding of planet formation.

Protoplanetary disk surrounding the young star HL Tauri: New observations with ALMA reveal substructures within the disk that have never been seen before, and even reveal the possible positions of planets forming in the dark parts of the system. Image: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

Numerous discoveries of exoplanets over the past few years have proven that planet formation is the rule rather than an exception. At the same time, astrophysicists have made huge progress in observations of the birthplaces of planets and learned more about the risks that prevail specifically in the environment around young stars. Despite these important discoveries, the planet formation process as a whole remains a puzzling as its intermediate stages are essentially unobservable.

Models for the early stages of planet formation

This is where Joanna Drążkowska comes in with Planetoids (Formation of planetary building blocks throughout time and space). Her ERC project aims at constructing innovative numerical models of the early stages of planet formation when the dust grows to pebbles and eventually becomes gravitationally bound in building blocks of planets called planetesimals. Global models are scarce for this important phase of planet formation.

Joanna Drążkowska studied astronomy at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, and received her doctoral degree in 2014 from the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Heidelberg. After three years as a postdoctoral researcher at the “PlanetS” National Centre of Competence in Research at the University of Zurich, she moved in 2018 to LMU’s University Observatory to work under the guidance of Professor Til Birnstiel. In 2021, Joanna Drążkowska received the A&A (Astrophysics & Astronomy) Early Career Award.

Protoplanetary disk surrounding the young star HL Tauri: New observations with ALMA reveal substructures within the disk that have never been seen before, and even reveal the possible positions of planets forming in the dark parts of the system. Bild: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

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