Every planetary system forms in a thin disk of gas and dust orbiting a young star. Small dust grains, a micron or two in size, collide and merge into large aggregates that settle into the midplane of the disk. In the midplane, aggregates grow into planetesimals with diameters of roughly 1 km. Collisions between planetesimals produce planets. SSP scientists use theoretical calculations to understand how dust grains evolve and how planetesimals become planets.
Thayne Currie, Fred Franklin, Matt Holman, Grant Kennedy, Scott Kenyon, Myron Lecar, Michail Petaev, Dimitar Sasselov