Thesis Topic: Constraining planet formation by understanding protoplanetary disk evolution


Thesis Supervisor: Carlo Felice Manara


While protoplanetary disks are known to be the birthplace of planets, the understanding of both how and when planets form and how exactly disks evolve is still missing. Our extensive surveys of young stars in several star-forming regions with VLT/X-Shooter spectroscopy and with high-resolution ALMA sub-mm data are starting to constrain the timescale on which planets form, and to have a better understanding of the properties of their natal disks. Whether these properties of protoplanetary disks are similar in different stellar environments is still matter of debate, and the subject of this project.

The project will involve reduction, analysis, and interpretation of VLT/X-Shooter, VLT/ESPRESSO and more spectra of young stellar objects with state-of-the art tools, mainly coming from the new ESO/VLT Large Program PENELLOPE (, and from the wealth of data from the HST/ULLYSES and related programs. On top of that, the PhD candidate will work on complementary ALMA data to asses properties of the disks. Over the course of the PhD the student will be encouraged and trained to write observing proposals to collect more data. Collaborations with several other ESO staff and international collaborators will allow to expand the knowledge on the topic and to better interpret the results.


  • Manara et al., Evidence for a correlation between mass accretion rates onto young stars and the mass of their protoplanetary disks, A&A Letter, 2016, 591, L3
  • Manara et al., X-shooter survey of disk accretion in Upper Scorpius. I. Very high accretion rates at age > 5 Myr, A&A, 2020, 639, A58,
  • Manara et al., Constraining disk evolution prescriptions of planet population synthesis models with observed disk masses and accretion rates, A&A Letter, 2019, 631, L2,
  • Manara et al., Why do protoplanetary disks appear not massive enough to form the known exoplanet population?, A&A Letter, 2018, 618, L3,