WG1: Understanding the formation and evolution of planetary systems and habitable planets

 - E. Szuszkiewicz (Poland): Planetary Formation and Evolution
Lena Noack  (Belgium): Star Formation and Evolution 
Florian Gallet (Switzerland): Habitability

Planet formation is intrinsically connected to the physical and chemical properties of the host star and its circumstellar material. In particular gaining an understanding of processes such as the evolution of the host star’s luminosity versus its mass and its main sequence progress, the distribution of elements in the protostellar disk and its chemical structure, the dynamics of grains and volatiles in the presence of a gas cloud, and the chemical composition of the star are all central to understanding of planetary formation and evolution  and developing state-of-the-art stellar models. These models should also include very specific magneto-hydrodynamical processes (e.g., magnetic interaction between the star and its accretion disk, angular momentum redistribution, chemical mixing, tidal forces, etc.) that are not yet fully understood but are known to be crucial to explain key observational features of proto-stars and young stars.

The commonality of Sun-like stars in the Milky Way strongly suggests that many stars in our galaxy hosts planetary bodies, some of which might be habitable, indeed around nine hundreds exoplanetary bodies and more than three thousands planetary candidates have now been discovered with the prospect of many more being revealed as Kepler’s data is analysed . The presence of several low-mass planets orbiting their host stars in their Habitable Zones (HZ) suggests that many Earth-like habitable planets exist. Upcoming space missions and ground-based telescopes (e.g., ELT Extreme Large Telescope) are expected to identify many more of these bodies and will provide the opportunity for  characterizing  their atmospheres and hence exploring their potential  for supporting life.

It is therefore timely to study the origin as well as the physical and dynamical characteristics of these objects. Such studies require a detailed theoretical approach to develop comprehensive models for the formation and evolution of planetary bodies, and particularly the habitable ones. It is then necessary to develop a deeper understanding of:

  1. The formation of giant planets, super-earths, and smaller bodies,
  2. The processes of their dynamical evolution such as planetary migration, planet-planet scattering, and their long-term stability, and within the context of habitability,
  3. Their atmospheric characteristics and their interior properties.

Within this context, the Action will address the challenge of gaining a fuller understanding of planetary systems and habitable planets by :

  1. Developing custom-made stellar models that include specific magneto-hydrodynamical processes
  2. Investigating accretion processes in the range of  submillimeter to centimeter (fluffy aggregates and grains), meter to kilometer (planetesimals) and several kilometers (planetary embryos)
  3. Simulating  the evolution of protoplanets in the protoplanetary disc, including dynamical processes affecting their inward and outward migration
  4. Studying the evolution of planetary systems and investigating in particular the processes determining the final state (rotational speed, orbit eccentricity). To what extent are these processes stochastic (chance collisions) or predictable (interaction with neighbouring giant planets)?
  5. Model the final architecture of planetary systems, particularly those with low mass planets orbiting in the habitable zones of their host stars
  6. Developing new and sophisticated numerical techniques to study and model exoplanetary atmospheres to identify biosignatures
  7. Developing sophisticated models of the interior of Earth-sized and super-Earth extrasolar planets, and determine the connection between their interior dynamics and atmospheric structure
  8. Investigating whether or not our solar system is typical or similar to other exoplanetary systems

These tasks require combined expertise from astrophysics, geosciences, atmospheric science, chemistry and also history of science which will deal with the history of planetary sciences and the emergence of  a new interdisciplinary field called “astrobiology”.


CSO Approval date: 14/11/2013
Starting date: 15/05/2014
Ending date: 14/05/2018

Action Chair:
Dr. Muriel GARGAUD (FR)

Vice chair:
Prof. Wolf GEPPERT (SE)

STSM Manager:
Prof. Nigel MASON (UK)

Web Manager:



Grant Holder Financial Representative:

Mrs Annick Caperan

Science Officer:
Dr. Mafalda QUINTAS

Administrative Officer:
Ms Aranzazu SANCHEZ



A Trans-Domain Action supported by COST.

COST is supported by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020



Involved countries

View the Interactive Map
of Member Countries

Participating Countries
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

COST International Partner Countries
Canada (UQAM), South Africa (Univ. of Johanesburgh), Russian Federation (Institute of Geology, Petrozavodsk), Australia (University of Sydney), United States of America (University of Hawai)

Specific Organisations
European Space Agency (ESA)

Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)

Aiming at fostering collaboration, sharing new techniques, and infrastructure that may not be available in other participants' institutions or laboratories. STSMs are intended especially for young PhD researchers, but they are open to senior researchers as well. View the documents at this link.

 It should be explicitely noted that Master students are not eligible for STSMs which are for PhD students and more experienced researchers.

The life-Origins COST Project

Life-ORIGINS (TD1308) is a Trans Domain European COST Action dedicated to the scientific investigation of the origins and evolution of life on Earth and habitability of other planets.

The Action has specifically excluded the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life in its portfolio. Creationist theorems are also outside the Action’s remit.

Individuals are not allowed to use the name of the Action, its logo or any corporate identity of COST TD1308 in any communication without prior approval of the Management Committee.

All publications referencing the support of the Action should be sent to the appropriate Working Group chair at the time of submission.