Many researchers at the Institute of Astronomy study the formation and subsequent evolution of stars and their planetary systems (including our own Solar System). Much of this work is undertaken from a theoretical perspective, using both analytical (e.g., considering planetary system dynamics and astrophysical fluid dynamics) and numerical methods (e.g., using hydrodynamic, N-body, and radiative transfer codes). Observational studies, using optical, mid-infrared, and sub-mm facilities, are also respresented, such as the search for extrasolar planets, and surveys for and imaging of debris disks.
Mark Wyatt's group at the IoA carries out a range of observational and theoretical debris disk related research.
Exoplanet science is the most rapidly growing field in current astronomy, and over 500 exoplanets are now known. The IoA is involved in several projects to discover new exoplanets, using a variety of techniques.
Research into the dynamics of extrasolar planetary systems at the Institute of Astronomy covers a broad spectrum of topics.
Cathie Clarke leads a group that studies the hydrodynamics of (potentially planet bearing) discs around young stars.
One of the most curious small body populations within the Solar System is irregular satellites. Investigations of the dust created in collisions between these objects is undertaken by Mark Wyatt and Grant Kennedy.
Cathie Clarke's group is currently focusing on analysing the results of large scale cluster formation simulations and comparing their predictions with observaional surveys of star forming regions.