Supercomputing boost for planet formation research at UCLAN

Guild Research Fellow Dr Dimitris Stamatellos and postdoctoral researcher Dr Alex Dunhill have been awarded 2.4 million computing hours at the DiRAC UK High Performance Computing facility to study the early phases of planet formation in young protoplanetary discs.

The question about the origin of planets and life has fascinated humanity since ancient times. Until 20 years ago we knew just 8 planets, the ones in our Solar System. Since then more than 3,000 planets have been directly and indirectly observed around other stars. Dr Stamatellos’ “Theoretical star formation and Exoplanets” group is building computer models to simulate the conditions that lead to the formation of giant planets, like Jupiter. These computer simulations take from weeks to months to complete and the use of fast supercomputers is required. How do exoplanets form? What do they tell us about the formation of our Solar System? Is our Solar System unique? Is life common in the Universe? These are some of the exciting questions that the group is trying to answer. The allocated computing time will allow the group, including PhD students Ben MarFarlane and Anthony Mercer, to perform detailed simulations of planet formation and evolution using a variety of state-of-the-art numerical codes.

Featured Image: Computer simulation of a planet forming in a protoplanetary disc around a young star.