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. tj

    Why don't u dumb people roll with the flo

    January 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. g

    very cool! some good news!

    January 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Dan

    I found some more supernovas in the same picture. What do I win?

    January 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. American Idiot

    The math doesn't add up. How can she be 10 years old if it happened 240 million years ago? Shouldn't she be at least 240,000,010 ?

    January 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. lakotahope

    Hey, I remember the first time I found a naked girl in my bed. She rewarded me for my find.

    January 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sean S.

    "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."

    WRONG!!!

    240 million light years ago is NOT 240 million years ago and I'm not even a scientist/math wiz...

    1 light year equals 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles, 93,000,000 miles would equal 0.001607 light years...

    So, if you tried to do the adding on this you'd get a HUGE number that wouldn't fit on your average calculator, even one with an extended screen. Sorry, I just don't want my students learning the incorrect information. Like Columbus discovering America, HAHA, what a joke, he didn't discover it he landed on it. People have been here way longer than when that Spaniard arrived here yet I and many others were taught he did discover America. Joke!

    Sincerely,

    Sean Stuhr, M.D. (Just Kidding about the M.D., that was sarcasm, I'll still probably have a cop show up for sort of impersonating a doctor, LOL! Seriously, we arrest people for the stupidest garbage in this country!)

    January 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • stejo

      wow...words escape me...

      January 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Huh?? Okay, Sean, I have trouble understanding your argument here. A light year is the distance light travels in one Earth year, therefore if the distance between the star and Earth is 240,000,000 light years, then the light would have left the star 240,000,000 years ago. I think you are confusing time (years) with distance (miles).

      Time of a journey is the product of speed times distance (no need to worry about acceleration as the speed of light is constant). The "large number" you refer to would be the distance or the number of miles in one light year 6 trillion miles (5,878,625,373,183.6 miles) times 240,000,000 years, which equals 1.4 quintillion miles (1,410,870,089,564,060,000,000). Thus, if you started with the distance of 1.4 quintillion miles and wanted to know how long it takes light to travel that distance, you could use a light year, which means you would divide 1,410,870,089,564,060,000,000 divided by 5,878,625,373,183.6, you get 240,000,000. The reason why we use light years versus the actual distance is that you get these fantastically large numbers.

      January 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crash2Parties

      The stupid, it burns...

      January 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ImWithDouchy

    Cataloging this improves my life how?

    January 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. lakotahope

    The rays from a Supernova probably knocked down all of those birds in Arkansas the other day.

    January 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Thiago

    If the person who discovered the supernova was a 49 years old Astronomer Doctor, i´m sure some (if not all of them) of the criticals wouldn´t even exist. Mozart wrote his first work with five years old and for what i remember nobody says probably his father wrote for him.
    So what if the girl has 10 years old? The reason to do it (just to beat the 14 years old boy) it´s reasonable for someone with 10 years old (let´s arrest her!).
    It´s really really difficult to find something like this, you have to see the right precisely spot in an area thousand times larger then the size of the earth.
    I´m a son of an Astronomer Doctor, because of this i love astronomy but i´m not even close to discover something like this. So been born in a family with some or lot astronomy knowledge is not enough.
    I have a wonderfull idea, let´s shut our mouth up and start to give some credit to the person who discover it.

    January 4, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. bill liveley

    Nanny nanny boo boo

    January 4, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Aaron

    So what did your kid do over the break??? LOL

    January 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Drin King Water

    Sure beats watching TV! Good going kid.

    January 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. hooksandflesh

    I can not believe that a bunch of adults would be on here bashing a 10 year child for trying to edu herself.I think it is a great thing for her to discover this and I am ashamed to be a human if adults are here bashing this little girl.for this .what people don't have anything e;lse to do but pick on a helpless child shame on everybody that was bashing this little girl and for the parents and family of this little girl,I say be proud of your child and be proud of the way you are teaching her .

    January 4, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lone

      People who've never learned to build, create or otherwise do something with themselves tend to compensate by tearing down others efforts. Even if this discovery was 'set up', it doesn't change the benefits the girl is receiving by being exposed to education and family time.

      January 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • bluebird

      Spare us. No one is bashing her, we are bashing CNN for this stupid story.

      January 5, 2011 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. RISHI

    hi, plz reply me. From India

    January 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      I own a horse

      January 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. brad

    Matt...
    I think that we waste too much money on astronomy trying to prove the big bang is real and trying to find aliens. So far, nothing has worked, and many discoveries start to put doubt on the big bang theory.

    Keep telling yourself that. Also where did you get that tin foil hat from?

    January 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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