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. dwight


    January 4, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Well.....

      so its like playing Find the Difference.

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

      I'm impressed as well; however based on the second sentence, I'm wondering how many more people found a supernova on the holiday break? 😀

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

      @Jim – way too funny! When I read it, I thought the exact same thing!

      January 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lawrence

      So what? She did not direct the telescope to the area, take the photo, pore over 100's of photos and find the supernova. She just looked at a picture and said, "Is this one?" Give the photographer more credit. If he looked at his own photos he would have found it.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Not impressed....let a 10 year old whose dad is not an amateur astronomer discover one and I will get some care bears in my eyes. She just happened to be born into a star obsessed family (middle name Aurora?) which gave her access to the equipment, the information, and the motivation. 10 year olds don't get that on their own volition. The article admits that the goal was to find a supernova to "beat" some 14 year old's record. Wouldn't be surprised if Dad set the whole thing up for some attention.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dheeraj

      The tooth was 400,00 years old, but not verified to be human. read the article again.

      January 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cold War Veteran

      Look, when all the evidence we have is looked at with unbiased eyes and an open mind, it becomes clear that the religious figures of the world were most likely ancient astronauts. All the gods/angels/demons, etc., were aliens – "gods" to us. Modern humans came along very suddenly the evolutionary record, as if they arrived from somewhere else. Ancient astronaut hypothesis suggests one possibility for this is that aliens may have mated with, or otherwise genetically altered the genes of primitive hominids to create a hybrid species capable of advanced thought (i.e., fully modern humans, about 50,000 yrs ago, according to most anthropologists). The aliens stayed around for awhile, guided us and helped us out. Some even fought amongst themselves in massive battles (see ancient Hindu texts). But eventually, they left us with the promise to return some day to see how we're doing (2012 prophecy?). It's all very simple, really. Strange...bizarre...but simple. At least it's no more bizarre than the idea that some immortal god created this one planet, and created no other life in the vast universe. Or that this god created humans only to leave most of them to live miserable lives, forced to suffer famine, disease, and fight and destroy each other, and the Earth. That actually makes more sense when viewed through the ancient astronaut hypothesis.

      Do you feel enlightened? 🙂 Have a nice day.

      January 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      so what is the other bright spot that appears diagonally to the right of this?
      but yeah grats on her father finding this for her.

      January 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • LP

      John- you are seriously a moron. How would a 10-year-old buy all of that stuff by herself? What on Earth does her parents' interest in astronomy have to do with it? Everyone's parents had an interest in something. If you were to make some progress in what they were interested in, how does that make your work any less valid? You need therapy. Seriously.

      January 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bozobub

      Whether or not Mr. Lane COULD have found it, the girl DID find it. Shared credit (as the dad said they considered it) is just fine.

      January 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • good for you guys

      feels good take make witty comments about 10 year old children dosent it guys

      January 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charly

      Hey "good for you guys" – it would feel better if you would learn to write in English

      January 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mom of Plenty

      Jim – I thought the same thing, too! Someone needs to brush up on their writing skills!

      January 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      This team has been blessed with an ambitious 10 year old. Great teamwork and thank you for this discovery!

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

      A few things...

      1. I agree with John. LP – The fact that her parents are "wanna-be" astronomers is not unimportant, in fact it is the only thing that IS important about this fluff. You're correct that it's good her parents are interested in something, but when they go to the media and give credit to a 10 year old child they have to be ready for real-world criticism. In her family it might be special that she found a dot that wasn't there before but in the real world she did not actually DO anything besides look at a photo her father was already looking at. Only a true moron would think this child did anything newsworthy because only a true moron who knows nothing of astronomy would think this significant.

      Of course a 10 year old child couldn't afford all of the equipment which is why 10 year olds don't make scientific discoveries and why this story reeks of a publicity stunt. There is nothing special about this child other than her attempt to help her break some stupid record. That's if you believe that she actually found it, which I don't. Maybe we should just send her to Harvard now for a tenured spot in the Astrophysics department?

      2. I wish everyone on this board would stop attacking peoples' English usage as a way to get the upper hand in an argument. Some of my most brilliant professors have spoken and written in broken English, it means nothing. English is not hard to learn, especially for native speakers, and speaking perfect English means nothing except that you speak perfect English. Maybe instead of attacking misuse of "your" and "you're" you could actually come up with a valid point of your own.

      January 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Turtle Soup

      Casey – Agreed with your comment regarding the American public sucking up this fluff journalism, but what do you expect from a country who has some citizens who think Palin is something special? The collective American IQ continues to go down.

      January 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. But

    we're only 2000 years old.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • yeah

      6000 if your gonna make fun of a group of people at least get it right

      January 4, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • RealityCheck

      Correct, humans have been here for just over 6000 years, but the earth and the universe are billions of years old.

      January 4, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Isaiah

      Boy si that off...there are bones from millions of years ago..look it up...they had lives too..

      January 4, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • colleen

      Umm, RealityCheck...I think your reality deserves a check. I'm hoping your post was a joke.

      January 4, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Meridia

      It's called radiocarbon dating. They aren't just guessing by how many layers of earth it's under. (Which, by the way, is also an accurate measurement.) Radiocarbon dating works by measuring decay using carbon-14. Look it up.

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

      Actually recent DNA research shows that the actual current living human species originates from one man and one woman who lived about 150,000 to 200,000 years ago...

      January 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • EternalBliss

      Oh... and btw.. while we are on the topic the one man and one woman lived in Africa.. yes thats right.. every living human is from African ancestry.... hope that isn't too much for some to handle..

      January 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • System48

      Re: Meridia
      Radiocarbon dating is limited to an age range of 58,000 to 62,000 years. Other radiometric dating methods are used to determine the age of something beyond that limit. Look it up.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Artemis

      Just a slight correction: they found evidence that all humans descend from one WOMAN, through studies done of certain DNA/RNA that can be traced through females only. Men are not included in this.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • bhansen

      A handful of fossil teeth found in Israel’s Qesem Cave, described in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and attributed to 400,000 year old members of our own species in multiple news reports, are said to rewrite the story of human evolution.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flash

      God has placed bones that appear to be millions of years old around the earth to help identify the non-believers

      January 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pagan Goddess Priest

      Actually, we came from a tribe in Africa near the Sahara Desert. Radiocarbon dating isnt accurate and studying soil isnt accurate either. Nobody really knows how old we are with the shift of the continents and the story of the bible. There were once giants on earth and dinosaurs and a great flood. But we dont really know when these happend. Unless you were there when humans evolved and when life was created we dont really know. The reason why radiocarbon is not corresct is that what we know about science and math is not all true. Every number is actually equal to Infinity. Dont believe it research it. So because of this math is all wrong. And Science is inaccurate because math is wrong. What we know about science and Math is as far as our brains have developed. There is more than we can ever understand or believe. But my "Estimation" notice i said estimation is that we are about 300,000 years old. It corrolates with the age of people from the bible and it also corroltaes with ice ages, continent shifts, and dinosaurs. Now you r prolly saying that humans and dinosaurs didnt live together. but if you read the bible it says that we walk among great breast that resemble dragons of myth. So to really believe science and religion on how old we really are is nnot a good way to live. Be open and determine for yourself. You are slowly letting your individuality leave you. We will all find the answers to lifes mysteries someday.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • CannonOwner


      Actually, you need to check your logic. To state that, "Many of those assumptions are not verifiable, you have to accept them on faith only" is not a true representation of the processes that led to said assumptions.

      Firstly, we all need to realize that what goes on inside any individual’s brain is not necessarily an accurate reflection of the universe outside that brain. That being said, the only sane way to interpret the universe outside one's brain, and communicate about it with similarly isolated brains, is to use the one thing that our brains can have in common: cold, hard logic.

      A major precept in logic is a little something called Occam's Razor, which if I may paraphrase, states, "When faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well, choose the simpler." The application of this tenet in an ongoing, thousands-year-old process of model conjecture/rejection/refinement about the universe outside our brains has led to computers, refrigerators, the steam engine, stone tools, the dating of bones, the concept of the big bang, and, yes, the theory of evolution. A true thinker realizes that these models are not now, nor can ever be, a true representation of the universe, however the more we refine them, the closer they come to describing how the universe actually works.

      And, as an afterthought, I would like to point out that there is nothing in this model-building process that affirms nor denies the existence of a supreme being.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • gecoble

      Well, then how long ago did Noah walk the earth? I do not understand why some people get so threatened by evolution. It's real and it is happening all the time. That's why you get a flu shot every year? Radiometric dating proves that. Science is not evil or the work of the Devil. If you believe in God, do you think he would have just dumped a full load of physics and biology on Adam and Eve of how the universe was formed? How do you explain why the sky is blue to a four year old? I think those who believe in God do not give the Almighty enough credit. Please keep in mind all those translations of the Bible have the hand of men on it. To err is human.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lawrence

      Jesus was born just over 2000 years ago.....

      January 4, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      the bible doesn't say anything about how long the universe has been in existance... Even before the first day in Genesis, it just states "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." It doesn't even say that during the first day the earth was created. The age of the universe isn't biblically explained. First day God created a distinction between light and darkness on earth, forming the first night and day.

      January 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • penlamphatt

      Pagan Goddess Priest–

      How far did you make it in college or high school math and science? It sounds like you were where I was in high school – not quite ready to come to the realization that everything I was taught as a child to explain things in simple terms (religion) just isn't correct based on the facts presented by science. Almost akin to being in a "bargaining" type of stage of acceptance.

      Anyway, please explain how every number is equal to infinity. I've gone through algebra, geometry, multi-variable calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, along with utilizing that knowledge with organic chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology, mechanics, circuit design, and a whole heck of a lot more which simply do not lead me to believe you know what you're talking about with regard to this statement.

      Math (and science) is not wrong. Sure, there may be some flaws (which with time will be erased and new ones to fill the void – hence your idea of "as far as our brains have developed", in a sense). I guess what I'm getting at is humans and dinosaurs did not coexist. Evolution is true and is happening, although not everything is known about the theory. Our methods of dating, while not 100% accurate, are a fantastic way of estimation (far better than, "hey this book written by people hundreds to thousands of years ago to explain things that could not be explained due to their "underdeveloped brains" says we're x years old").

      One certaintly can't use religion to justify science. So, why can you justify religion by picking only what you want to hear from science, and omit the rest that goes along with the theory? Don't work that way.

      January 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      hi im palin stupid. which god should I believe in as I dont want to be stoned or excommunicated

      January 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Ah, life has has been here for a few billion years, and man has been here for a few million years. Go get an education.

      January 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • But

      what's funny is how some people (at least 1 publicly) think I was making fun of the religious.

      January 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charly

      You guys are all idiots – look it up

      January 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph Bleaux

      To me, there are 3 choices, either you believe that

      1. Life evolved naturally from lower forms.
      2. An invisible, supernatural man in the sky created the first man out of dirt, and then because he was too stupid to think of it ahead of time, created the first woman out of a rib as an afterthought.
      3. An invisiible, supernatural man in the sky magically "Poofed" all life into being as-is.

      So, it's either archaic old myths or modern science. To me, the choice is clear.

      January 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      RealityCheck, open a science book instead of a fairy tale and you will learn a lot.

      January 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leslie

      @Flash: You sure it wasn't Santa Claus, or the tooth fairy?

      January 4, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Middleschooler!

      @ Pagan-Where are they? Any fossil record of these? " Now you r prolly saying that humans and dinosaurs didnt live together. but if you read the bible it says that we walk among great breast that resemble dragons of myth." I want to see proof of the great "BREASTS" LOL

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

      I think I just read at least a dozen idiotic responses here.. did everyone fail elementary school science or what..

      January 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. db

    Good for you!! Too few girls are interested in science, and it's an exciting area to study, isn't it?? Congrats!!

    January 4, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • ImWithDouchy

      No, it isn't. It's a pretty much useless area of science.

      January 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lone

      You pick that name douchy or did was it a given? Astronomy is one of the more important sciences. At some point we'll have to leave here for out there, so knowing as much as possible ahead of time is key.

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


    January 4, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. Hater

    na, this little twerp is lying.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • ImWithDouchy

      I would have called the dad a d0uche. Little twerp is a bit strong. First balloon boy, now supernova girl.

      January 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RichG

    How can you tell that's a supernova? There are other dull white dots on the picture as well. Are those supernovas, too?

    January 4, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • AGeek

      By comparing previous images of the same section of sky. Supernova are not long-lasting events. No bright spot, no bright spot, no bright spot, BRIGHT SPOT!, BRIGHT SPOT!, less bright spot, no bright spot, no bright spot. ..and so forth. While they're hardly infrequent, there's a LOT of sky to cover, so they're not observed as frequently as they happen.

      January 4, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • kayaker247

      supernova don't last forever. they were compairing the picture to one taken previously. it's fairly easy. look for a dot where there was no dot before.

      January 4, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Maxx

      No, maybe if you learned some astronomy you'd know what a super nova is and how to tell them apart. People who actually study these things don't have this ambiguous issue you do.

      January 4, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Right

      Ashame they've never heard of computers, they could track them all.

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

      Computers aren't the problem, It's data acquisition. There simply aren't enough telescopes to cover the entire sky. For that matter, there cannot be. The universe is a fairly sizable place.

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

      Maxx-e-pad, I don't have an issue with it, I was just asking how a person can tell what a supernova is. Thanks to AGeek, he explained it to me. No need to be a smartazz about it.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • magnus

      dont pay attention to Maxx-i-pad. He is a loser troll that probably failed astronomy class and he is overcompensating with his hatred.

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

      @AGeek... hahaha! that was good.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • gecoble

      I agree. There should have been a before and after shot to better explain how you find a supernova. Leave it to CNN to skip the stone on the water 🙂

      January 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Understatement of the century by AGeek......" The universe is a fairly sizable place." Loved it!

      January 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave Lane

      The only way to tell for certain its a supernova is to use a large telescope and take a spectra (a rainbow of its colors). They have a specific signature. This is done usually after the discovery is announced as a "apparent supernova" after other more routine things are ruled out such as asteroids. In this case, a 1.5 metre diameter US scope called the Whipple Observatory was used and confirmed that is was indeed a supernova – whew!

      (I am one of the co-discoverers)

      January 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Auloria

    A supernova is a basically a stellar explosion. You can find new ones by looking for white dots that weren't there before.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Lawrence

      She didn't do that. She just pointed to a bright dot......She would have to do the research, find photos from the past of that area and compare it to the photo she has now. All she did was see a bright dot, there are other bright dots near Galaxy UGC 3378 do she just got lucky......

      January 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • IsNot

      Lawrence, according to the article, she WAS going through sequential photos of that particular stellar region and saw the flare on the fourth picture in. As AGeek said, that is the accepted manner of searching for any form of "occurring" nova evidence. I say "occurring" in quotes because the light we see is hundreds, if not thousands, of years old and is just now reaching us.

      Somewhere down the line, one can expect the residue of said nova to become a nebula.

      January 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bill Nye

    RIP exploding star

    January 4, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • JC

      2nd best comment so far.

      January 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • goodgodgurdy

      Please don[t come back as a zombie star!

      January 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Josh

    Is this super nova really "in the galaxy UGC 3378", or is simply near (just ot the right of) galaxy UGC 3378 when viewing the sky around the constellation of Camelopardalis?

    January 4, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Doctor Dave

      Actually, the term refers to the general direction of the object, not its actual location, which is why one might say it's "in Taurus" even though the constellation Taurus is made up of stars that vary greatly as to their distance from Earth and each other.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • SB

      Actually, the supernova really is in the galaxy UGC 3378. Supernovae are pretty rare per galaxy, but with so many galaxies visible, scores of them are seen every year. The universe is a big place.

      What Dr. Dave said would be correct if we described the supernova as being "in the constellation of Camelopardalis". That would tell you its location in our sky, but not its location in space. When you say it's in galaxy UGC 3378, that is its real location in space.

      January 4, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doctor Dave

      I stand corrected. I hadn't actually researched this particular supernova when I replied, and you are correct about this designation, and with regard to similar objects in NGC-classified objects as well.

      January 4, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cesar

    Good job Kathryn.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. EvoDevo

    Cool story. More important than Paris, Kim and Lindsey combined.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Yes...but they all have one thing in common. Their light is going out.

      January 4, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. Paul M

    Cool beans!

    January 4, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. LBW

    What a kid! Thank goodness that there are studious kids out there. She did this without showing too much body or making a "tape" or any of the other awful things that young people are becoming famous for. This is real news. I hope to see her future getting brighter and brighter.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • d

      She didnt do anything. She just pointed at a shiny dot.

      January 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JP

    Isn't that from the same night all those birds died? Weeeeeeiiird.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • TBonez

      Mulder and Scully are on it *Cue X-Files music

      January 4, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adrien

      Love the X-files comment

      January 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • NaoOkami

      The truth is out there Scully, and it is up to us to find it.

      January 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fat Finger Joe

    Damn, this 10 y.o has done more with her life already than I have in 40!

    January 4, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • My farts don't stink.


      January 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
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