12 January 2022

ERC-recipient will investigate how Earth-like planets take shape


Michiel Lambrechts from the University of Copenhagen has received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council to investigate the origin of the Earth-like planets located around nearby stars in our galaxy.

Michiel Lambrechts
(Photo: Michiel Lambrechts, UCPH)

Each year, the European Research Council (ERC) distributes the so-called Starting Grants to researchers who have between two and seven years of experience after completing their PhD. The researchers receive EUR 1.5 million over a period of five years for establishing a research group on the basis of a ground-breaking research idea.

This year, Michiel Lambrechts from the GLOBE Institute at the University of Copenhagen receives one of these grants. With the grant, he will investigate the formation of Earth-like planets.

“The project has competed with so many projects from skilled European researchers from different fields, so I am thrilled that the ERC has chosen to fund my project and I am very much looking forward to getting started,” says Michiel Lambrechts.

New telescopes, new insights

His new research group will focus on the origin of Earth-like planets, specifically with regards to discs of gas and dust around young stars.

“We are discovering ever-more Earth-like planets around nearby stars in our galaxy. The origin and early evolution of these planets remains poorly understood, and this is even true for our very own Earth! Fortunately, advances in our observational capabilities, such as those expected from the recently-launched James Webb Space Telescope, will both improve the characterization of Earth-like planets and the discs of gas and dust around young stars in which they form,” he says.

Making use of this anticipated observational progress, the ERC grant will fund a team consisting of PhD and postdoc researchers for 5 years, with the ambition to do breakthrough theoretical work towards understanding the origin of Earth-like planets.

This effort will largely rely on numerical simulations with the aim to link the physical processes in planet-forming discs to those that lead to completed planetary systems.

“This research is important because it aims to address fundamental questions on which conditions are needed to form Earth-like planets and shed light on the delivery from disc to planet of key elements, like water, needed for the development of life as we know it,” explains Michiel Lambrechts.

See the entire list of ERC recipients.



Michiel Lambrechts

Press Officer Mathias Traczyk
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