Inner disks: Unveiling the composition of nascent terrestrial worlds

Name of applicant

Giulia Perotti


Postdoctoral Fellow


Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg


DKK 1,403,735



Type of grant

Reintegration Fellowships


Water is essential for life as we know it. However, astronomers still debate how it reached Earth and whether the same processes could seed rocky planets orbiting distant stars. This project tackles these longstanding questions by probing a sample of twenty disks - the nurseries of planets - in nascent solar systems with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).


Water has been found in young disks, but astronomers couldn't find any in older ones. This led them to suspect that intense radiation from stars might have made it difficult for water to exist, leading to a dry environment for the formation of rocky planets. Can water survive in the vicinity of a star? I will test this hypothesis and gain novel insights on the origin of water on Earth.


In the past, it was challenging to determine whether rocky planets formed with or without water due to the limitations of infrared telescopes. This has changed thanks to the remarkable capabilities of JWST. I will conduct a comprehensive study of twenty old disks with JWST. This will enable me to measure the amount of water present in nascent solar systems and understand how it primarily forms.

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