My research focusses on the formation and evolution of planets in protoplanetary discs. These discs are the birth environments of planets and are made up of gas and dust that swirl around the central star. When the discs are young, they are massive and turbulent and are called self-gravitating discs. Recent observational evidence suggests that planet formation may occur in these discs, much earlier than previously thought. I am interested in understanding how planets form in young discs in one of two ways:
1) Core Acrretion -- where dust grows to form a solid core onto which gas accumulates
2) Gravitational Instability -- where the disc may become unstable and break apart, i.e. fragment, into bound gaseous objects
I also focus on how planets interact with protoplanetary discs once they form. I simulate how they migrate and open gaps in the gas and dust disc. I am also interested in linking theoretical models of planet formation and evolution to observations. The recent high resolution spatially-resolved observations of protoplanetary discs are showing detailed structures in discs, which combined with theoretical models, tell us about what processes are occurring in protoplanetary discs, including those related to forming planets. I am interested in interpreting the structures seen in observed discs to understand if they can be the signposts of forming planets.
I have also researched into the outcome of dust collisions using high resolution numerical simulations, and have also explored the coagulation and fragmentation of an ensemble of dust particles in discs to determine their long-term evolution to understand how the very early phases of planet formation occurs.