University of Heidelberg

Planet formation group at ITA

About this group

The planet formation group at the Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics was founded in November 2010. The group studies how planets and exoplanets are formed from cosmic dust in protoplanetary disk. We do this with numerical modeling, focusing on:

  • The structure, the formation and the evolution of planetary birthplaces (protoplanetary disks)
  • The coagulation, fragmentation and motion of dust aggregates in these disks
  • The formation of planetesimals (i.e. 1-100 km-size bodies such as comets and asteroids)
  • The runaway and oligarchic growth of planetary embryos out of swarms of planetesimals
  • The N-body interactions between newly formed planets.
We ask ourselves the question: Which physical processes are involved and how do they interact? We try to solve problems such as the infamous meter size barrier problem or the problem with the slow formation of Jupiter's core. Also, we try to understand the size distribution of dust particles in protoplanetary disks and we make the link to observational data of these disks through use of radiative transfer models.


  • Kees Dullemond
    Group head.
    Kees's Website.
  • Thomas Rometsch
    Postdoc, working on planet-disk interaction and migration
  • Carolin (Lina) Kimmig
    PhD student, working on warped disks and other non-axisymmetric disk phenomena.
  • Leon Hühn
    PhD student, working on planet formation in the early disk-forming stages.
  • Jan Braunwarth
    Master student, working on analyzing observations of warped disks with a dynamic warped disk model.
  • Sören Meiners
    Master student, working on interpreting ALMA dust rings with planet-disk interaction models.
  • Noa Bergmann
    Bachelor student, working on volatile element evaporation/condensation in molten chondrule precursors.

Visiting scientists

  • Carsten Dominik (March-April 2019)
    Visiting scientist at ITA, working on many things.
  • Eric Gaidos (regular visitor)
    Working on various things in exoplanetary sciences.
  • Sareh Ataiee (Summer 2014)
    Working together with Adriana Pohl on models planet-disk interaction.
  • Nader Haghighipour (Fall 2014)
    Visiting scientist at the ITA. Worked on planet formation around binary stars.

Former members

  • Vincent Mader
    Master student, working on new algorithms for dust coagulation calculation.
  • Moritz Beutel
    PhD student, working on hybrid Monte-Carlo-N-Body method for planet formation.
  • Cade Bürgy
    Bachelor student, working a re-evaluation of the DSHARP ring widths.
  • Frederike Marx
    Master student, working on dynamics of dust in disk with a planet
  • Jakob Schöll
    Bachelor student, working on two-population dust model
  • Kim Weiskopf
    Bachelor student, working on type III migration, two-planet migration
  • Andrej Herrmann
    Master student, working on multi-planet migration and the effect on the dust
  • Dominik Ostertag
    Master student, working on dust ring dynamics in disks
  • Schant Demircian
    Master student, working on the vertical structure of warped disks
  • Johannes Bahrenberg
    Bachelor student, working on radiative transfer in warped disks
  • Daniel Wanner
    Bachelor student, working on MCMC with simple disk models
  • Maike Voelkel
    Bachelor student, working on 1D disk gap models.
  • Julian Groth
    Bachelor student, working on the link between spiral opening angle and disk temperature
  • Peter Rodenkirch
    PhD student, working on planet-disk interaction and disk winds.
  • Noa Hoffmann
    Bachelor student, working on Infall onto a protoplanetary disk
  • Jan Braunwarth
    Bachelor student, working on multi-planet migration
  • Caroline Strunz
    Master student, working on dust dynamics in disks with spirals
  • Andrew Winter
    Postdoc (Humboldt Fellow).
  • Natalia Dzyurkevich
    Postdoc, working on disk models and planet formation.
  • Sören Meiners
    Bachelor student, working on chondrule formation.
  • Justin Fischl
    Bachelor student, working on the dust rings in DSHARP disks.
  • Andreas Rupp
    Postdoc, working on models of fractal grains.
  • Michael Küffmeier
  • Postdoc, working on 3-D hydrodynamics of protoplanetary disks and their formation history.
  • Felipe Goicovic
    Postdoc, working on pebble accretion.
  • Leon Steiner
    Bachelor student.
  • Frederike Marx
    Bachelor student. Works on radiative transfer models of protoplanetary disks.
  • Schant Demircian
    Bachelor student. Works on hydrodynamic models of dust rings in protoplanetary disks.
  • Maroussia Leidner
    Bachelor student. Works on the radiative transfer of dust rings with scattering.
  • Sören Krüger
    Bachelor student. Works on hydrodynamic models of disks being fed by mass from outside.
  • Bogdan Zhukov
    Bachelor student. Works on disks with shadows.
  • Kevin Lange
    Master student. Working on models of water in planetesimal interiors.
  • Caroline Kimmig
    Bachelor student. Works on migration in disks with FARGO simulations.
  • Andrej Hermann
    Bachelor student. Works on migration in disks.
  • Jochen Stadler
    Bachelor student. Works on 1-D disk evolution models.
  • Ferdinand Weisenhorn
    Bachelor student. Works on Fargo Simulations of ringed disks.
  • Lukas Kuhn
    Bachelor student. Works on dippers.
  • Iulia Skobleva
    Bachelor student. Works on CO maps of disks.
  • Caroline Strunz
    Bachelor student. Worked on rings in disks.
  • Dominik Ostertag
    Bachelor student. Worked on circumplanetary disks.
  • Micha Philipp
    Bachelor student. Worked on gap formation in disks.
  • Alexander Nies
    Bachelor student. Worked on planetary migration.
  • Aaron Schneider
    Bachelor student. Worked on outbursts of protoplanetary disk sources.
  • Enrico Delibori
    Guest master student. Worked on hydro models of disks truncated by a companion.
  • Nicolas Brod Bach
    Master student. Works on ice evaporation and condensation in surface layers of protoplanetary disks.
  • Adriana Pohl (MPIA/ITA)
    PhD student. Working on radiative transfer models of non-axisymmetric protoplanetary disks, trying to explain recent observed images of disks.
    Adriana's Website.
  • Akimasa Kataoka
    Postdoc (JSPS Fellow April 2015 - November 2016, Humboldt Fellow as of December 2016). Works on a new probe of dust grain sizes and shapes, using millimeter wave polarization as observed with ALMA, interpreting this as a result of "self-scattered" thermal emission from the dust.
  • Sebastian Stammler
    PhD student. Works on the role of ices in planet formation.
    Formerly masters student in this group, working on chondrule formation in shocks in protoplanetary disks.
  • Anna Penzlin
    Master student. Working on dust dynamics in evolving protoplanetary disks.
  • Alex Fontana
    Master student. Working on radiative transfer in protoplanetary disks.
  • Marlen Neubert
    Bachelor student. Working on comparing the composition of protoplanetary dust compared to solar system composition.
  • Veronika Oehl
    Bachelor student. Working on warped disks.
  • Kevin Lange
    Bachelor student. Works on liquid water in planetesimal interiors.
  • Fabian Scheuermann
    Bachelor student. Works on dynamic stirring of planetesimals.
  • Peter Rodenkirch
    Bachelor student. Works on magneto-centrifugal wind effects on disk evolution.
  • Inga Kristina Kerber
    Bachelor student. Works on grain alignment.
  • Sebastian Geiser
    Bachelor student. Works on planet trapping in pressure bumps.
  • Manuel Kramer
    Bachelor student. Works on accretion of gas from an MC.
  • Kai Salm
    Master student. Working on N-body and Monte Carlo simulations of planet growth.
  • Dan Cermak
    Master student. Working on implicit hydrodynamics algorithms.
  • Philipp Weber
    Master student. Working on inner rims of transition disks.
  • Maximilian Herrmann
    Master student. Works on water delivery to Earth.
  • Daniel Harsono
    Postdoc. Works on chondrule formation processes, protoplanetary disks and planet formation.
  • Elias Rombach
    Bachelor student. Works on thermal evolution of planetesimal interiors.
  • Matthew Herbst
    Bachelor student. Works on non-planar disks.
  • Tobias Jäger
    Bachelor student. Works on re-accretion of chondrules onto planetesimals.
  • Joshua Hähnel
    Master student. Working on coagulation and the bouncing barrier.
  • Jonas Höhrl
    Bachelor student. Worked on radiative transfer in planetary atmospheres.
  • Farzin Sereshti
    Programmer. Working on the RADMC-3D code.
  • Laszlo Szucs
    PhD student. Worked on radiation-hydrodynamic models and synthetic observations of star forming regions, and their comparison to observations.
    Laszlo's Website.
  • Joanna Drazkowska
    PhD student. Worked on connecting the small scale dust growth to large scale planet formation.
    Joanna's Website.
  • Volker Gaibler
    Postdoc. Worked as part of the SFB 881 collaboration on the Milky Way System, focusing on jets as a source of feedback in star formation.
    Volker's Website.
  • Jon Ramsey
    Postdoc. Worked on disk photoevaporation, magneto-centrifugal disk winds, jets, outflows etc.
    Jon's Website.
  • Stefan Brems
    Staatsexamen student, worked on coagulation of droplets in planetary atmospheres.
  • Florian Eberhart
    Projektpraktikum-student. Worked on the shock model of chondrule formation.
  • Valentin Chelaru
    Projektpraktikum-student. Worked on turbulent stirring of particles.
  • Carsten Littek
    Master student. Worked on N-body simulations of multiple-planet systems in a gas disk environment.
  • Sebastian Lorek
    Master student. Worked on N-body method for linking to stochastic planet formation codes.
  • Eduard Bopp
    Master student. Worked on gas flows around mini-planets in protoplanetary disks, and the potential for pebble accretion onto those objects.
  • Kay Scholze
    Bachelor student. Worked on disk eccentricity.
  • Philipp Weber
    Bachelor student. Working on modeling of pre-transitional disks.
  • Paul Heeren
    Bachelor student. Worked on gravitational contraction of dust clumps/clouds in protoplanetary disks.
  • Fredrik Windmark
    PhD student. Worked on modeling of particle collisions in protoplanetary disks based on laboratory data from the Duisburg laboratory.
    Fredrik's Website.
  • Paola Pinilla
    Former PhD student. Worked on modeling of dust evolution in protoplanetary disks and radiative transfer models of such disks to compare to near-future ALMA and E-VLA data. Now Postdoc in Leiden.
  • Sareh Ataiee
    Former visiting PhD student. Worked on type I migration of multi-planet systems in the context of "planet factories" (local hotspots of planet formation). Now working in Masshad, Iran.
  • Helen Morrison
    Former Masters student. Worked on time-dependent radiative transfer in protoplanetary disks. Now PhD student in Rostock.
  • Dan Cermak
    Former Bachelor student. Worked on a scenario of boulder migration to explain pre-transitional disks.
  • Gianni Klesse
    Bachelor student until November 2012. Worked on pseudo-atmospheres around very low mass planets embedded in a protoplanetary disk.
  • Elena Selentin
    Masters student until Summer 2012. Worked on the problem of hydrodynamic re-accretion of debris after impact of a small projectile onto a large target in a protoplanetary disk. Now a PhD student in cosmology working with Luca Amendola at the ITP, Heidelberg University.
  • Chris Ormel
    Postdoc until August 2011. Was Humboldt Fellow 2009/2010. Works on runaway and oligarchic growth of planetesimals to planets. Now a Hubble Fellow in Berkeley.
    Mail to Chris.
  • Zsolt Sandor
    Postdoc until August 2011. Works on N-body and hydrodynamics of the late stages of rocky planet formation in a gas-rich disk. Now in Innsbruck / Vienna
    Mail to Zsolt.
  • Til Birnstiel
    PhD student until August 2010. Postdoc until summer 2011. Works on global disk models with dust evolution, and the predictions of observables and comparison to observations. Was in Munich, in Prof. Ercolano's group. Now at CfA, in Sean Andrew's group.
    Til's website.
  • Andras Zsom
    PhD student until August 2010. Worked during his PhD on making the connection between laboratory experiments in Braunschweig and models of dust coagulation in protoplanetary disks. After that he was working as postdoc in the group of Lisa Kaltenegger at the MPIA on the topic of exoplanetary atmospheres. Now at MIT in the group of Sara Seager.
    His web site.
  • Frithjof Brauer
    Former PhD student. Pioneered the full-scale dust coagulation modeling done by us. Without his work, we would not have been able to do much of our current science. See, however, below...

In Memoriam: Dr. rer. nat. Frithjof Brauer

Read the Nachruf for Frithjof Brauer.
Responsible: Cornelis Petrus Dullemond, last modification Mar/09/2024 12:24 CET
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