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. WhoNeedsNasa

    See... I told you... who needs NASA when an unfunded 10 year old can find a super nova... That is my opinion.

    January 4, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TonyStark

    If you pay close attention to this article you will see that she didn't discover anything. You can only clam that when you when you actually understand what it is you are doing and put in the dedication and hard work that it takes. You don’t point to a photograph that someone else took and say “dad is that it”. We all love our children but this is ridiculous.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • bluebird

      Thank goodness someone has some common sense to read a STRETCHED story and call it like it is.

      January 5, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. TonyStark

    If you pay close attention to this article you will see that she didn't discover anything. You can only clam that when you when you actually understand what it is you are doing and put in the dedication and hard work that it takes. You don’t point to a photograph that someone else took and say “dad is that it?” We all love our children but this is ridiculous.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • foodle

      Yes, broken down to its most basic level it doesn't sound that impressive. But that's true of almost everything.

      Examples:
      1) All he did is tie a knot - surgeon
      2) All he did is push some buttons - computer programmer
      3) All he did is ask his dad for a favor - water into wine

      January 5, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  4. tim

    Someday our sun will become a supernova..... then pooof!! it will vanish?

    January 4, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CAB

    Does anyone else see like 30+ other possible supernovas in that same picture?
    They all look the same to me in that photo. How can you verify through this photo.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tracy

      Ok stupid, if you bothered to read the article you'd realize that you must study the same star photographs over a period of time to see the changes. Read before you open your stupid mouth.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Denny

      As mentioned in other comments, CNN would have illustrated this better by showing the true process of comparing multiple photos of the same area and looking for new points of light that were not there before.

      January 5, 2011 at 3:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. Richard C

    When comment on someone's comment, would you please IDENTIFY THEM???!!!

    January 5, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • foodle

      Or use "reply" ...

      January 5, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Greg Clapton

    Nice try, sounds like Daddy wanted to get his name in the paper.

    January 5, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • bluebird

      It is reminiscent of the "balloon boy" hoax.

      January 5, 2011 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. Calvin Hobbes

    Wow! Good eyes. Looks like another dot to me.

    January 5, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  9. JD Jr

    Alien life? Please. Over 90% of the stars out there are red dwarves, rendering it impossible for a "Goldilocks" zone. Non-carbon-based life is impossible, since carbon is one of the few elements capable for so many bonds (check out hydrocarbons ^_^).

    Then, there is the location of a heavy-metal star (type 4, right?) out in a spiral arm so it doesn't get ko'd by black holes etc. That means a spiral galaxy, like ours. Plus, a liquid core (Van Allen belts, anyone?) and tectonic movement (crust renovation/carbon workout), and a moon (tides, axial tilt, something to make songs about).

    Maybe there is life, as a science student I can not rule it out 100%. But I am 99.999×10^(60) it would be bacteria, if anything. Cave paintings are not proof, I can draw a spaceship too, that doesn't mean I have seen one.

    Good one Kat, stay focused, stay sharp. Maybe we'll meet at the Nobel Prizes 🙂

    January 5, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • JD Jr

      Apologies: this is directed @ Turtle Soup.

      Sorry for the gap, comp glitched on me. Maybe user error.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tracy

    First of all, way to go Kathryn! You rock! How many kids her age show that kind of dedication & perseverance to even look for a supernova? Second, to all you cynics, what have your children discovered?

    January 5, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  11. Lori

    "That means the star explosion seen by the 10-year-old happened 240 million years ago." I dont understand that. Not a science pro by any means and never will be but can someone please explain what the above sentence means and how that is possible.

    January 5, 2011 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
    • foodle

      The star is very far away. 240 million years ago, it went supernova and sent out a lot of light. It has taken that light 240 million years to travel to Earth. Hence, the star is said to be 240 million light-years away from Earth. A light-year is the distance that light will travel in a year's time. Make sense?

      January 5, 2011 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. bluebird

    This reminds me of the "balloon boy" hoax.

    January 5, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. krozar

    For a bit of extra money in college I hunted down supernova for the astronomy department. Incredibly boring.

    January 5, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. matthew dickerson

    Maybe we should put her to looking for osama bin laden or wmd's

    January 5, 2011 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. Adan

    Have you morons ever heard of a typo? 8 year old pre-teen! You ignore the point and cling on the typo says pretty much about you.

    January 5, 2011 at 6:32 am | Report abuse |
    • m-trw

      Because that point was political US, and this story is science Canada

      January 5, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
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