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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soundoff (391 Responses)
  1. Ed

    Wow. Rather than complain about raunchy TV shows or violent video games, this father spends time with his daughter.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • LP

      I know, and then the brain donors here have the nerve to complain about it. Their kids can go back to their video games and dearest hopes to someday work at McDonald's. The rest of us will continue with higher aspirations.

      January 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joe

    I wonder how many inhabited planets were destroyed by a super nova.. and what it must have been like to the life on the planet as the star grew to a red giant..

    January 4, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Adrien

      I'm guessing all life was probably wiped out way before the star actually exploded.

      January 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bac0n

    It's always great when younger kids discover the joys of silly punk rock music...

    What, you're talking about the astronomical body and not the band?

    January 4, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. Phil

    "That means the star explosion seen by the 10-year-old happened 240 million years ago."

    Yeah, thanks for pointing that out...because we don't know what 'light year' means.

    Why do they dumb down the news? Are there really that many stupid people out there?

    January 4, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • AGeek

      Sadly, yes. 44% of the US believes the planet to be 10,000 years old or less. When you've got stupid on that level and at that magnitude, it's an uphill battle all the way.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raymond

      Are you not reading the posts on this story????

      January 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachael M

      Raymond nailed it.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray

      Except that we don't know any such thing. The supernova appears to be in proximity to the galaxy .. but we weren't given any information, in the article at least, about wether or not the supernova is actually close to the galaxy, or only appears to be from our vantage point. It could be much further away or much closer. We only know that the light from the galaxy took 240 million years to reach us because we know how far away that galaxy is. I'm not sure they've even figured out how far away the supernova is. So we wouldn't yet know how long ago the explosion happened.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bailoutsos

    It exploded 240 million years ago. Old news.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • yeah

      haha well said

      January 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • RichG

      Now thats funny!

      January 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frito Bandito

      Good one!

      January 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alison

    Congrats to her! What might have helped this article, is a side by side slice of a number of the pictures they had including this one. Then people could tell that the spot had changed in brightness. At least that's what I would have insisted on if I wrote for CNN.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. EternalBliss

    Ha... Kids have good eyes don't they... 🙂 ..Seriously tho.. congrats young lady.. and nice to see young students interested in Science.. especially a female.. keep up the effort!

    January 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. myklds

    Isn't there any possibility that her Father Paul discovered it first?

    January 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      Sure it's possible. But she was interested in science and it's not like it's difficult. If she put in the time to scan pictures she was eventually going to find one.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • myklds

      Also her father Paul who is an "Amateur Scientist."

      January 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ThomasD

    Where do people get this 6000 year thing anyway. Thats not even older than the first dynasty of egypt. We have man-made tools older than that. Is this a religion based ideal?

    January 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Yes, it's based on a literal reading and backtracking through the Bible by a 17th century archbishop named Ussher (google that for info) that followed the geneologies and ages of people using a couple marker events following back to Adam & Eve and the creation. There's absolutely no scientific support for any it and little historical support other than maybe a couple major events like the destruction of the temple. You've got about as good a chance at determining the beginning of the universe using astrology charts.

      January 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. nepawoods

    So someone emailed her a series of photos taken at different times, she looked at them to check for any bright dots that appear in one image but not earlier images, and "pointed to the screen and said: ‘Is this one?’"

    January 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ray

    I'm not sure if anyone addressed this ... but the article says that because the galaxy the supernova appears to be in proximity to is 240 million light years away .. that the supernova explosion happened 240 million years ago. Do we really know this? The supernova could be much closer or further than the galaxy. They may know these factors in more detail, but just because something appears to be close to something else .. doesn't mean it is. Astronomy 101.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. phillip

    Just to let u know that every 200,000 there been a great change to the earth. we are due one now!

    January 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bill

    @ mykids. You're probably right. Her father didn't take credit due to the tax implications.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • myklds

      OR, probably to break the record of that 14 yr. old girl. Right Bill or Bill of Rights?...lol

      January 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. phatslim

    Is that one? No.

    Is that one? No.

    Is that one? No.

    Is that one? CNN!

    January 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sagefarmer

    Apparently, there have been younger people to discover supernovas, but it wasn't 'during the holiday break'.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
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