Aaron Boley

Wall Scholar


Associate Professor


Department of Physics and Astronomy





Geographic Location

Aaron Boley

Dr. Boley earned his PhD from Indiana University. Before joining UBC as a Canada Research Chair in Planetary Astronomy, he was a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Zurich and a NASA Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Florida.

Dr. Boley investigates the birth of planets, and seeks to put the Solar System in context with the many worlds now known to exist. His research program addresses processes such as the rise of planet-forming discs, the formation of solids found in meteorites, and the long-term evolution of planetary systems and their debris (asteroids and comets). To do this, Dr. Boley utilizes supercomputer simulations, as well as observations from some of the world’s most powerful astronomy facilities.

Observational surveys have revealed that planetary systems are about as ubiquitous as the stars themselves. Throughout the Galaxy, there are other Jupiters, other Neptunes, and other planets with Earth-like sizes. For centuries we have relied on only the Solar System for understanding our origins. Now, new data from meteorites, comets, and newly discovered planetary systems simultaneously challenge classical pictures of planet formation and provide the information needed to explore new ideas. 

Primary Recipient Awards

Aaron Boley – International Research Roundtables – 2020

This roundtable will address new and acute challenges concerning the governance of outer space, including orbital debris, the weaponization of space, and space mining. The use and access to space is changing rapidly, due to technological change and the entry of new state and non-state actors, including large and highly capable companies. Interdisciplinary research is urgently needed to inform international policy decisions that will likely be made within the next 3-5 years. The complexity of the issues requires collaboration between astrodynamicists, planetary scientists, aerospace engineers, international lawyers, political scientists, industry leaders, and government decision makers – from around the world.

Aaron Boley – Wall Scholars – 2016

While at the Institute, Dr. Boley will bring together leading researchers throughout the world to address whether chondrules are byproducts or building blocks of the Solar System. Chondrules are small, previously-molten spherules found in abundance in most stony meteorites. These pebbles preserve a record of the formation events that gave birth to the Solar System’s planets, and understanding chondrule formation is paramount to revealing their secrets about our origins.
Dr. Boley will also seek to use his position as a Wall Scholar to engage a broad audience in a conversation about the formation of our home, the Solar System.

Co-Principal Investigator Awards

Moriba Jah – International Visiting Research Scholars – 2020

One of Dr. Jah’s projects, AstriaGraph ( http://astria.tacc.utexas.edu/AstriaGraph/ ) seeks to gather and curate all sources of information about artificial objects in Earth orbit via participatory sensing.  He is developing the analytics to assess satellite operators, and to support the Space Sustainability Rating.

Drs. Jah and Byers plan to research and co-author an article on space debris litigation. He will also work with Dr. Boley to co-author a paper on the ecological footprint of space debris, re-defining metrics to assess how crowded orbits are, including studying the carrying capacity of orbits.  These projects would open the door to using domestic courts to obtain compensation for damage caused by negligent satellite operations, as well as to provide well-defined criteria for assessing the load on the orbital environment. It would provide a powerful incentive for companies to exercise care in the design, construction, launch, placement, and operation of their satellites, and thus help to prevent a tragedy of the commons in Earth orbit.