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. xoxoc

    OMG this is augusthe from the miley cyrus forum

    January 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. David Powell

    Now that is awesome. Kids need more science stuff and less daytime talk shows and courtroom shows. I love that she did this, hope it is the start of a long forad n Science for her – And maybe for some other kids that hear about this!

    January 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ANDROLOMA

    I thought socks ended up at the New York Sock Exchange...

    ????

    January 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lauren

    She should be very proud! Not everyone gets to see something like this!

    January 4, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. maj17

    Congratulations to Kathryn for her discovery. Why do people, however, have to bring religion into this picture? How will these zealots react if it is ever found that beings from other worlds look nothing like humans? I firmly believe that there are others throughout the universe, but I surely have no idea as to what they might look like. I do believe in UFOs as I saw one about 25 years ago in the wee hours of the morning while jogging.

    January 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Spears

      Agree. The biggest proof that there is life elsewhere is that 'we' exist. If there 'is' life on earth, which is negligible compared to the Universe, then there is definitely life somewhere else too.

      January 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crash2Parties

      Ah, now that would be interesting. About on the order of say, disproving heliocentricity in it's effect on their worldview. But don't worry about them, they'll recover and be just fine. After all, the aliens don't have souls...

      January 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Turtle Soup

      There is so much proof in ancient carvings and structures that extraterrestrials were here during the time of our ancestors. Modern day religion is man's interpretation of these ancient "Gods".

      We have only discovered a portion of the universe that equals one glass of water in the ocean. What a close-minded, self-centered belief if you believe we are alone.

      January 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Carlos

    Good job, young lady.

    January 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fireybuddha

    "That means the star explosion seen by the 10-year-old happened 240 million years ago." It's pretty sad they have to explain that. Are we that dumb?

    January 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Spears

      A lot of people don't know that. What we see in the dark skies in the night is all past.

      January 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LOL

    If that's not cheating nothing is. I bet you give that girl a telescope and say go out back and play she'd be 80 years old and still looking for one.

    January 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wth

    You friggin religous people suck! This little girl who s only 10 discovers something pretty cool and you crap all over it! Religion is going to be the downfall of this great planet! She is only 10. Where is the compassion?

    January 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ryan Paul

    Grrrrrrrr..... I'm ten so I can find a supernova. Great job, anyway. Do you have a telescope? I do a reflector one, good for spotting supernovas! Nickname: O-Ryan

    January 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mick

    cool, way to go fellow Canadian, feel bad for the aliens whose sun just blew up
    may the force be with them

    January 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • m-trw

      blew up 240 million years before the force was a glimmer of an idea in anyone's head

      January 5, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Robert Hagedorn

    Do a search: The First Scandal Adam and Eve.

    January 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eric2007

    240 Million years old... talk about OLD news.

    January 4, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Turtle Soup

    I was expecting this girl to be looking through a telescope, studying the universe, and finding the supernova. I am kind of disappointed to see that all she did was point to a bright star in a photo and ask her dad “Is this one”? Beh. I am sure she is a cute kid and all, but call me less than impressed.

    January 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      Unfortunately, this is nothing more than a totally bogus story manufactured by her father... Having lived up that way, there's really nothing to do in the dead of winter other than drink and fabricate bogus stories... since she's only 10 years old, she's still got a year before she can get hammered drunk iaw brunswick law...

      January 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. DeVille

      I agree...A bit disappointed about that....

      January 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cletus Johnson

    I got hit by a Chevy Nova when I was 5...does that count?

    January 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • adnor11

      I still drive a Chevy Nova! 1988, 45,000 miles on it! LOL

      January 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Griffin

      adnor11, your 1988 "Chevy" Nova is NOT a really a Chevy Nova. It is really a Toyota Corolla in disguise. They later became known as the Geo Prism.

      January 4, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
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