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Planet and Star Formation

In this course you will study the formation of stars and planets from a combination of state-of-the-art theory and observation. The process starts with a cold giant molecular gas cloud and ends when the star appears on the main sequence and a planetary system has formed.

Protoplanetary disc around HL Tauri
ALMA image of the protoplanetary disc around HL Tauri. Image credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

You will learn the basic physical mechanisms involved in the magneto-gravitational collapse of gas clouds, leading to the formation of protostars and the onset of nuclear burning. You will be introduced to powerful observational phenomena involved in the mass accretion process, such as the formation of outflows, jets and shocks. We proceed with the study of circumstellar disk evolution and theories describing the formation of planets from dust, to pebbles, and planetesimals. We will define important concepts such as the initial mass function, stellar multiplicity, and the star formation rate and discuss evolution over cosmic history, starting from the formation of the first stars until the present day. You will gain insight into how star and planet formation is linked to neighbouring fields of planetary, stellar and galactic astrophysics.

  • Course structure

    The course is given during day time at 50% speed and is part of the Master’s programme in Astronomy. It can also be taken as a free-standing course. The course is given in English.

    Teaching format

    The course consists of a series of lectures, in which problem solving is embedded. The students will also prepare and present a seminar on a related topic of their choice.


    To complete the course, the students need to pass a written exam at the end of the course. The second mandatory component is active participation and satisfactory presentation of student seminars, which will be graded with pass/fail.


    Karin Lind

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    All course literature is publicly available online.

    Main course literature:

    Notes on Star Formation, Mark R Krumholz, Open Astrophysics Bookshelf, 2019
    Link to online book

    Short extracts from additional course literature will be used as well:

    The formation of stars, Steven W. Stahler & Francesco Palla, WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, 2004
    Link to online book

    Astrophysics of Planet Formation, Philip J. Armitage, Cambridge University Press, 2012
    Link to online book


  • Contact

    The academic advisor and student office can be contacted via