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Seth A. Jacobson

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2012
M.S. Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2010
B.S. Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, 2008


I study the history of planetary bodies in the Solar System as well as general processes of planet formation and Solar System evolution often applicable to exoplanetary systems. The goal of my work is to build internally consistent models of the origin and evolution of planets, moons, asteroids, and comets that can be compared to cosmochemical measurements, geophysical data, and astronomical observations.

Recent examples of my work include determining that:
  • The core of Venus is stably stratified inhibiting a dynamo and an internally generated planetary magnetic field.
  • A group of Mars Trojan asteroids are likely from the interior of Mars.
  • The core of the Earth grew in part from iron-sulfide rich core formation events during mantle magma ocean crystallization.
  • The great dichotomy of the Solar System (giant outer planets and small inner planets) is not just a result of the stability of water ice as a solid but a direct consequence of pebble accretion.
  • The Moon-forming impact on the Earth must have occurred over 60 Myr after the first solids in the solar system to explain Earth’s mantle abundances of Platinum group elements.
  • In each of these examples, I match modeling a specific process (or few) with datasets that I then use to learn about that process. From there, I gain insight into the history of a specific planetary body or group of bodies.


EARTH 110 – Exploration of the Solar System
EARTH 381 – Planet Formation and Evolution
EARTH 382 – Cosmochemistry

Selected Publications

Jacobson, S. A., Rubie, D. C., Hernlund, J. W., Morbidelli, A., & Nakajima, M. (2017). Formation, stratification and mixing of the cores of Earth and Venus. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 1–15.

Polishook, D., Jacobson, S. A., Morbidelli, A., & Aharonson, O. (2017). A Martian origin for the Mars Trojan asteroids. Nature Astronomy, 1(0179), 1–5.

Rubie, D. C., Laurenz, V., Jacobson, S. A., Morbidelli, A., Palme, H., Vogel, A. K., & Frost, D. J. (2016). Highly siderophile elements were stripped from Earth’s mantle by iron sulfide segregation. Science, 353(6), 1141–1144.

Morbidelli, A., Lambrechts, M., Jacobson, S. A., & Bitsch, B. (2015). The great dichotomy of the Solar System: Small terrestrial embryos and massive giant planet cores. Icarus, 258, 418–429.

Jacobson, S. A., Morbidelli, A., Raymond, S. N., O'Brien, D. P., Walsh, K. J., & Rubie, D. C. (2014). Highly siderophile elements in Earth’s mantle as a clock for the Moon-forming impact. Nature, 508(7494), 84–87.

Complete list of publications.

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