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. SkyKIng

    An infinite number of stars exist in the universe.
    Stars explode all the time in the universe.
    So an acquaintance took pictures in his telescope on Friday night, and this girl was the first to examine the photos, and noticed the exploding star and asked if it was a supernova.
    She is not any brighter or remarkable than anyone else, she was just the first to observe this event, similar to others that happen all the time.

    January 4, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • conoclast

      Hey "SkyKIng" Listen to yourself, dude: 'She is not any brighter or remarkable than anyone else'. Would you have recognized that particular blob on the photo as a supernova? This kid most certainly IS smarter than most - a good bet is she's a whole lot smarter than you, fool! Think you can live with that?

      Would you have immediately recognized what you saw in the photo as a supernova, hmm? So the little 10-year-old girl really is smarter than you; think you can live with that?

      January 4, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Turtle Soup

    I am interested in hearing the way Christians explain Jericho stone structures that are 8000 BC years old.

    January 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom in HI

      Just a minor clarification: My understanding is that the structures date from around 8,000 B.C., which makes them about 10,000 years old.

      January 4, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bob

    This is a totally bogus story manufactured by her father...

    January 4, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. conoclast

    Ain't blogging fun! A ten-year-old Canadian girl impresses us with her knowledge and intelligence while "adult" Americans invariably depress us with their ignorance and stupidity. Yeah, vote for Palin; she's dumbed-down America's poster child!

    January 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. brad

    There is a finite number of stars, even people a hundred years ago know this. If there was an infinite number of stars we wouldn't see starlight as points because the enitre sky would be filled up with stars... Do research before you make such claims.

    January 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • ecarlson

      It isn't known whether the number of stars in the Universe is finite or infinite. However, since we can see only a finite distance in the finite age of the Universe, the number of stars we can see is large but finite.

      January 4, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • sw01

      Brad is probably referring to Olbers' paradox (an infinite number of stars would be indicated by a very bright sky 24 hrs a day). The universe is characterized by some very large numbers, but not infinity.

      January 5, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. fjpiea

    So she found it on a picture, not through a telescope? Anyone can point at a dot on a picture and say "is that one?" I don't really think that counts. And it was verified by amateur astronomers, not even real experts. But I do find it funny that her middle name is Aurora, which also kinda has to do with space... lol

    January 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Judy

    Wrong, brad. There could be an infinite number of stars in a straight line pointing at earth, and all we'd see is one point

    January 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cowx

      Wrong. Because the universe began at the big bang, it must have been finite at that time. As it expanded it could never have expanded to infinity, because you can never go from a finite amount, to an infinite amount. If there is a finite size to the universe, then you cant have an infinite number of stars. Also, even if there were an infinite number, then they would not be aligned in a straight line.

      January 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Adan

    Point a dime to any part of the sky and within the cyclinder it forms, there is ~100,000 galaxies that can be seen with a large telescope, and then there is 1 supernova per 100 years per galaxy (per galaxy there can be hundreds of billions of stars), so any night within that narrow cyclinder of that dime, and at any direction in the sky, there is more than 10 supernovas occouring.....a very rare event , but the unimaginable size of the universe makes it possible, just as the possibility of our existance, considering time as well ( as explained by Prof. Laurance Krauss).

    January 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mitch

    I discovered Pluto at 8. I win

    January 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norman

      Sorry Homie! Pluto isn't a planet anymore.

      January 5, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. brad

    You got me

    January 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boston

      Actually, you and Judy are both wrong in a sense. If there were an infinite number of stars AND the universe were infinitely old, every line of sight would end on the surface of a star. However, the light may simply not have had enough time to make it to the Earth.

      January 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James

    I'm sorry! Pointing to a fuzzy dot and saying " Is that one?" is not discovering a supernova.

    January 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. punk567

    OH MY GOD! >:)

    January 4, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Adan

    The vast richness of the American land together with the luck of history made U.S a very wealthy nation, of course together with policies that encouraged business (the most latter is still present, so?). While Europe was recovering from WWII, U.S recruited many of its talents (including the Nazis).

    Today, the rest of the world is catching up fast, and American citizens have become "elite/liberal/educated" haters, they voted for Bush because he acted/thought and spit like them, they have become a nation coasting on yesteryears glories while they have fattened up and lost all sense of integrity (look at "Fair & Balanced" Fox News and the millions of idiots who tune in to it, in the name of taking a side against this alien "liberal"). Who are these liberals/elite they hate so much, look at the stats, they are the portion of Americans that make America, America. Well educated, high income, higher education...etc etc...take them out of America and U.S might as well be a Banana Republic. This is the "liberal" Fox News has made rural America hate so much.

    A nation with so much wealth and history became so close to have a VP of a woman with an IQ of an average 8 year old teenage girl.

    January 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • foodle

      "8 year old teenage girl"

      Er, that phrase is making me doubt *your* intelligence ...

      January 4, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Adan

    yup that was a Troll comment, I admit.

    January 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff

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

    Who is the younger person that found one not during the holiday break?

    That sentence would get a D or even an F in basic writing class.

    January 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
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