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Stellar-MADE Project

Meaning of the name:

Stellar-MADE stands for “Exploring the impact of Stellar Multiplicity on planet formation Across Disc Evolution”. This is an ERC Starting Grant 2021 project led by Nicolás Cuello at IPAG (Grenoble, France).


In regions of active star formation, the protoplanetary discs around young stars act as planetary factories. Recent observing campaigns have shown that the majority of protostars belong to multiple stellar systems: the younger the stars, the higher the degree of multiplicity. Young discs are then strongly affected by stellar multiplicity, unavoidably modifying the way in which planets form. The detailed evolution of multiple systems with discs and planets however remains to be explored. Since most current models have been designed for single stars, there is an urgent need to extend these models to multiple stars. This will pave the way for a better understanding of the process of planet formation, at a more general level.

The Stellar-MADE project aims to provide a comprehensive view of disc dynamics and planet formation within multiple stellar systems. My team and I will thoroughly study multiples to:

  1. Establish the formation channels of protoplanetary discs around young stellar objects;
  2. Follow disc dynamics and grain growth in order to identify the regions of planetesimal formation;
  3. Characterise planetary architectures and the resulting exoplanet population.

To achieve our goals we will perform hydrodynamical and N-body simulations, developing and adapting state-of-the-art codes (PHANTOM, MCFOST, REBOUND). Our calculations will include a broad range of physical processes: disc thermodynamics, radiative transfer, gravitational perturbations, aerodynamic friction, dust growth, and Mean-Motion Resonances. This will allow us to identify and quantify stellar multiplicity effects across evolution. My previous work on binary stars constitutes proof-of-concept that it is possible to coherently connect protoplanetary disc evolution to planetary architectures. Unveiling the effects of stellar multiplicity on planet formation will be a major breakthrough, which will enable us to interpret the whole exoplanetary population under a new and more realistic prism.

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