Girl, 10, becomes youngest to discover supernova
Kathryn Aurora Gray spotted the new supernova on this image taken on New Year's Eve.
January 4th, 2011
11:04 AM ET

Girl, 10, becomes youngest to discover supernova

A 10-year-old Canadian girl will head back to school this month with a good case for some extra credit in science: She became the youngest person to discover a supernova during the holiday break.

Kathryn Aurora Gray of Fredericton, New Brunswick, spotted the exploding star, dubbed supernova 2010lt, on Monday from an image taken on New Year’s Eve by a telescope belonging to amateur astronomer David Lane in Stillwater Lake, Nova Scotia. The exploding star is in the galaxy UGC 3378 in the constellation of Camelopardalis.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) says Kathryn is the youngest person ever to discover a supernova.

"I was very excited to find one. Especially this quick," Kathryn said of her discovery, according to a report in the Vancouver Sun.

Kathryn began her search for a supernova after she learned last year that a 14-year-old has discovered one of the exploding stars, her father, amateur astronomer Paul Gray, told the Toronto Star.

He shares credit for the find – his seventh – with Lane – his fourth, according to the RASC. The find was verified by amateur astronomers in Illinois and Arizona, the society said in a press release.

Supernovas are massive explosions that signal the death of stars many times the size of our sun, according to the RASC. Astronomers look for them by repeatedly scanning images of distant galaxies like UGC 3378, which is 240 million light years from Earth. That means the star explosion seen by the 10-year-old happened 240 million years ago.

Paul Gray told the Toronto Star his daughter found the supernova while checking the fourth of 52 images Lane had emailed to him.

“Kathryn pointed to the screen and said: ‘Is this one?’ I said yup, that looks pretty good,” Paul Gray told the Star.

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Filed under: Space
soundoff (391 Responses)
  1. Judy

    "8 year old teenage girl"?
    says it all

    January 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ed

    Being an amateur astronomer, I can tell you FOR a FACT that NO ONE these days discovers a supernova while actually looking through the telescope.

    It's done just like she did it – by comparing images taken on different nights of the same part of the sky.

    January 4, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. THE BIG G

    who cares about a supernova...

    January 4, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • ecarlson

      Many of the advances of the past decade or so in cosmology were made because of measurements of Type Ia supernovae. For this reason there are automated supernova searches going on all the time, as well as many amateur astronomers searching for them. Every discovery is one more data point. However, I don't know the class of this supernova, or even if it's been classified yet.

      January 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ed Bailey

    You go get I'm girl. Some good news for a change!

    January 4, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DarkAxel

    Bravo! In an age where most children cant break themselves away from the XBOX/Playstation/internet/TV umbilical that tells them how to think and what to expect from life, this little girl decides that she wants to spend her time trying to gain knowledge and her sentence in the history books. Bravo! for her father as well! Instead of letting his daughter sit and watch TV or poo-pooing her dream away, he encouraged her, supported her, and guided her in the right direction, and got to watch with pride as his little girl did something most other 10-year-olds never will.

    Seems like this little Canadian girl has shown more initiative and courage than a a huge section of Americans twice her age (And a majority of the gibbering idiots posting here).

    To me, this is a discovery win, a parenting win, and an education win. For those that can't handle that, shame on you. Shame On You. Instead of trying to come up with the latest lame /b/ meme on 4Chan, try following in this little girl's footstep. Stop trying to tear down her discovery to soothe your wounded egos and put that energy toward something useful. I'm sure you'll be quite surprised at the results.

    January 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. star plumber

    what is the big deal here?who cares about a place no one will ever get to

    January 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Loogin

    ..." The find was verified by amateur astronomers in Illinois and Arizona"...

    Really? So it'd just be a big fartcloud unless if it wasn't 'verified' by Americans?

    January 4, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ecarlson

      All scientific discoveries like this have to be verified. There isn't any reason they have to be Americans.

      January 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loogin

      It was checked out by The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Apparently that wasn't good enough.

      January 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • foodle

      This is the way science works. Independent verification and reproduction of results. Remember how well that worked for cold fusion?

      January 4, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nitrogen

    Nice job kid!

    January 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bluebird

    Good grief! this poor kid will think accomplishments and recognition come easy. Some one else learns how to use the telescope, someone else learns to plot the sky, someone else learns to how to use the camera with the telescope and take the pictures with the right lighting and exposure, and emails them, and prints them. All she did was point!

    January 4, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loogin

      Where does it say she doesn't know how to use a telescope, or how to plot the sky? Do you think she just wandered into the room, pointed at a picture and SHAZAM?

      If she had access to the pictures, she had it for a purpose. She could have been learning from Mr. Lane for 3, 4, maybe 5 years. Just because you're narrowminded, it doesn't mean a child can't learn something traditionally done by adults.

      January 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • bluebird

      The article doesn't even say the kid is interested in astronomy. It doesn't mean i'm narrow minded. It means the story stretches the truth a bit, don't you think.

      January 4, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loogin

      Really?

      If she wasn't interested in astronomy why would she be looking at the pictures? And how would she know what it was she was looking at?

      Because the article doesn't lay out the kids life story for you by no means casts a shadow over what she found, unless of course, you only read things and find negativity where there isn't any.

      January 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • foodle

      Do you think most 10 year olds are comparing images of distant galaxies during their winter break for fun? She's clearly interested in astronomy, likely due to her dad's interest. However, this is how many people's interests start. Nothing wrong with that.

      January 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • bluebird

      I am extremely positive–I don't why you find my comments so provacative and condeming. I think other comments are far more so. I've been very generous to the kid. But really, what the heck did she do exactly. I'd want to know more about scientific interest. I'm not so easly duped by a sensationalized story! It's almost like a cute animal video.

      January 5, 2011 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. bluebird

    I bet she pointed to bunch of dots and said "is that one daddy?' before she actually picked this one.

    January 4, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. maX

    MAYBE SHE CAN HELP ME FIND WALDO.

    January 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loogin

      If you can't find CAP LOCK, Waldo is far, far beyond you.

      January 4, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. strangetributes

    That is so off the chain!!!! I can't believe that happened. SO cool.

    January 4, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. j0eschm0e

    "He shares credit for the find – his seventh – with Lane – his fourth, according to the RASC." so it wasnt all her, her father might have found it and let her take the credit. but that in itself isnt all that bad, it is getting her interested into the science field, so it is a positive thing. keep the interest Kathryn....

    January 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. foodle

    For all you naysayers out there:
    1) Did she make a telescope out of old soup cans and reading glasses? No.
    2) Did she have help from adults? Yes.
    3) Did she "just" compare a bunch of digital images to find the difference? Yes.
    4) Was the story inflated by her dad and the media? Probably.
    5) Is she some kind of super genius? Probably not.
    6) Has she done more at age 10 to advance the knowledge of mankind than 99% of the commenters? Absolutely.

    January 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J

    I feel dummer for sitting here and reading (most) of these comments..... Good job to this girl!! Her parents should be proud shes interested in something other than tv or video games! I cant pretend to know what a supernova is so props to her!!!

    January 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
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