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. MattsWife67

    I think it's great.

    January 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Robert

    Mr. Bumpy eats the socks. Didn't clay-mation teach you anything. LOL!

    January 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MattsWife67

    wish I had a telescope. I just love loooking at the stars.

    January 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • CNNscienceteam

      Actually, if you have binoculars, you already have a pretty good stargazing instrument. There are books especially for using binoculars to explore the stars.
      I've been an ameteur astronomer for 56 years, since I was seven.
      Best of luck.

      January 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rich

    So now...in addition to adorable, she can add formidable to her list.

    January 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jack

    Good Work!

    January 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kevin Starkey

    The star exploded 240 million years before it's "discoverer" was born. To the creatures of UGC 3378, this is all very old news

    January 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mrhwi

      nice ! lol

      January 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    She became the youngest person to discover a supernova during the holiday break.

    How many people discovered supernovas during the holiday break? She wasn't the youngest one to do so during the holiday break, she was the youngest one to do so EVER.

    Try, "During the holiday break, she became the youngest person to ever discover a Supernova."

    Why are journalists such poor writers?!!

    January 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenn

      Heheheehhee – I had the same thought! Love it.

      January 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Agreed.

      January 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      agreed, they rush to print and this story isn't even going to be stolen by another news organization. Pathetic!

      January 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Margaret

      Being the youngest EVER would certainly include the holiday break.

      January 4, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mrhwi

      Science editors/reporters just don't exist anymore. Its entirely possible this poorly written article came from the processor of the food critic.

      January 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • m-trw

      Margaret,
      Ever does include the holiday break, but the holiday break doe NOT include EVER. The sentence in the story is wrong and an editor should have fixed it and chewed out the the reporter for being sloppy!

      January 5, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. Frank

    People of Canada,
    Name the Supernova after Kathyrn, KAT10!

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

    The father or the daughter discovered the supernova?

    January 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      His daughter

      January 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don in Nevada

      Her father is 14 years old

      January 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • foodle

      Both, plus the guy that actually took the image. Most modern scientific discovery is a team effort ...

      January 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • m-trw

      Both, she spotted it first, he confirmed it, the photographer is also getting credit.
      That is if that part of the story is better written than it seems.

      January 5, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    That is awesome, maybe she can show the 535 boneheads plus one in the City of Washington how to reduce our deficit/ debt to ZERO ! More power to her ! I hope she will consider a career as a Astromony major.

    January 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bah humbug

    Gee, I can "discover" white dots in blurry photos just as well.

    January 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I bet you can. Can you point out a supernova among those white dots? I would wager no.

      January 4, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Find a bridge

      Bah humbug, why don't you find a bridge and practice jumping? It will give you something to do.

      January 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denny

      Maybe you can, but you didn't. She did.

      January 5, 2011 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. The Bourne Blogger

    Great... Now maybe she can explain to Sarah Palin where Russia is in relation to her house...

    January 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      It's right beside Obama's Kenyan birth certificate

      January 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CNNscienceteam

    Some of the comments on CNN are so pathetically ignorant it is hard to believe that actual bipeds are writing them.

    January 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      I agree completely. This amazing kid does something most of these dip sh`ts on CNN couldn't even do and people are giving her a hard time. I bet most have no clue what it is she discovered. If this 10 year old had killed her family people would be saying how kids are pathetic and stupid blah blah – now a kid does something amazing like this and they still complain. Go figure. Good for Kat

      January 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rene

      Agree.

      January 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rob

    When I was 10 I used to like making farting noises with my armpits......

    January 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      Interesting. That's the exact same noise SuperNovas make, only lots louder.

      January 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Spears

      @Rob – That wasn't your armpits but your brain that was making those noises.

      January 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Burbank

    Congrats, Kathryn, you deserve an honorary PhD!

    January 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      I wouldn't offer her an honorary PhD. I'd offer her something FAR more permanent, name it after her.

      January 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Spears

      @Wzrd1 – Good idea!

      January 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      umm....a science Ph.D does take a lot more work than pointing out a super nova from a bunch of pictures.

      Hope the kid uses this opportunity to get interested in science and makes a career out of it.

      January 5, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
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