Institute of Astronomy

Dr Sebastian Marino


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Office: Hoyle H52
Office Tel: (01223) 766635
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 I am interested in the topics of planet formation and the architecture and dynamics of planetary systems. How do planetesimals and planets form? Where do planetesimal belts/debris discs form? What is the composition of exocomets? Can they deliver volatiles to terrestrial planets? My research tries to answer these questions through the study of:

  1. The structure of protoplanetary discs. These show features such as warps, vortices/dust traps, gaps, and substellar companions, which can be used to infer fundamental properties of these planet forming discs (e.g. densities, temperature, and viscosity). Moreover, they can hint at the presence of recently formed planets.

  2. The structure of debris discs to infer the distribution of planetesimals. This can be used to infer the presence of low-mass perturbing planets at tens of AU where detection techniques are inefficient. Moreover, structures could vary as a function of stellar properties, providing valuable insights of their formation mechanism and properties of their progenitor protoplanetary discs.

  3. Systems with exozodis. The presence of short-lived hot dust in some of these systems could be linked to the last stages of terrestrial planet formation when giant impacts are thought to be common, or to the presence of planets scattering exocomets formed at large radii and replenishing an exozodi.

4. The volatile reservoir of planetary systems. By studying the secondary gas present in debris discs, we can learn about the volatile content present at tens of AU in icy planetesimals (exocomets) that could be or have been delivered to inner planets.

5. Dynamics of exocomets being scattered by chains of planets, which could produce observable levels of hot dust and deliver volatiles to inner terrestrial planets.

I study these topics using multi-wavelength observations, including Sparse Aperture Masking, scatter light images of discs, sub-mm and radio interferometric data (ALMA, VLA, ATCA), sub-mm single dish data (JCMT), which I model to derive the structure of circumstellar discs. This modeling is done using radiative transfer simulation (e.g. RADMC3D) and MCMC techniques to explore the parameter space. In addition, I also simulate the planet-debris disc interactions using N-body simulations (e.g. MERCURY and Rebound) and the collisional evolution of discs using numerical methods.

Selected papers

Scattering of exocomets by a planet chain: exozodi levels and the delivery of cometary material to inner planets (2018)

A gap in the planetesimal disc around HD 107146 and asymmetric warm dust emission revealed by ALMA (2018)

Exocometary gas in the HD 181327 debris ring (2016)

Shadows cast by a warp in the HD 142527 protoplanetary disk (2015)



2010 - 2013 Bachelor in Astronomy at Universidad de Chile

2014 - 2015 Master in Astronomy at Universidad de Chile

2015 - 2018 PhD in Astronomy at University of Cambridge

2018 - 2020 Postdoctoral researcher at Max Planck Institute for Astronomy

2020 - present Research Fellow at Jesus College, University of Cambridge.

Awards and Prizes

2019 - Junior Research Fellowship granted by Jesus College, University of Cambridge

2018 - Shortlisted for Elsevier early career award (top young researcher in physical sciences in the UK).

2017 - NASA Hubble/Sagan fellowship, declined to take up position at MPIA, Heidelberg.

2016 - IoA Paul Murdin Prize

2015 - Cambridge Trust PhD Scholarship

2014 - Chilean CONICYT MS scholarship

Page last updated: 7 December 2020 at 14:00