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. Robert

    Way to go Kathryn! Good to see some families are still promoting science and discovery. This may be a transformative moment in her life and an inspirational stepping stone to a promising career.

    January 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. loo22

    Ok this is a story about a 10 year old kid. i dont care who you all think you are, but to put a kid down is absolutley reprhensible. grow up! turning this into a debate about creationism vs evolution is uncalled for and i'm sure that it has only turned that way because some of these people just want to feel like they have some shred of intellegence when judging from this there is none. this is a child! would you tell your children that you are not impressed with somthing they were excited about?GOOD JOB KID

    January 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brian

    Attagirl! Very exciting stuff and what a great feather in her cap! 🙂

    January 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Timothy

    More yellow journalism. This girl looked at a picture and noticed something had changed, now the idiot media steps in and acts amazed, like this kid is a genius.

    January 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • sigmundfreud

      She observed something that nobody else saw – that makes her the discoverer.

      Sorry if it makes you feel inadequate.

      January 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • ImWithDouchy

      Nobody else got the email. Calling this a discovery cheapens real discoveries.

      January 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leslie

      How many supernova have you discovered, spotted, or even seen? Besides the one in the photo above, of course....

      January 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. loo22

    the sad part is here that to feel some psedovalidation in your own unfulfilled lives you have to knock a child. shame on you who are doing it.

    January 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. phoenixjeff

    Wow, Canada actually did something beneficial to the world? Using AMERICAN technology none the less...kudos

    January 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Police

      Gee, I didn't realize an AMERICAN invented the telescope. I thought it predated the USA by a few centuries. Once you are done feeling so self important, you should read a book and learn something. ANY book. It doesn't matter. Start with Dick and Jane, yank.

      January 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • sigmundfreud

      I agree – go read a book, phoenixjeff. Preferably a history book, showing that the world did not begin in 1776, and that other countries have a long history of freedom as well. You can read a few science books to show who invented what in the last couple of centuries, as well.

      You've heard of Canada, perhaps: the end of the line for many thousands of slaves who came north on the Underground Railroad?

      They preferred a life of freedom in Canada, rather than a life as slaves in the "Land of Liberty" to the south.

      January 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gut21


    January 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Papa Joe

    6 month old baby points to exploding star breaks the record. Details to follow. Hold the presses..... Baby in the womb kicks at a picture for truly youngest discovery. Hold the presses.......... During the making of the baby... Hmmmm????

    January 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. palintwit

    Sarah Palin doesn't believe in supernovas or anything scientific for that matter. She says the stars are " God's little lightbulbs."

    January 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. EE

    240 mil years ago? comon now... if everything was created 6,000 years ago how could that be? *Sarcasm*

    January 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. zamboni

    The really important and interesting question that CNN should ask – did it become a black hole or a white dwarf or something else?????

    January 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. hecep

    Okay for the little girl. But what about me! I exploded!! 'Sgotta hurt!!!! signed Supernova 2010lt

    January 4, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Fat Finger Joe

    CNN Breaking News ..... Kathy Griffen has just declared jihad on 10 year old Kathryn Aurora Gray.

    January 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gudone

    Nice article 🙂

    January 4, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 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.

    January 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • stejo

      Please enlighten much do we spend? I'd really like to know. And by "we", do you mean Canadians? or?? And what is this doubt about the big bang – please fill us in on that as well.

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

      Um, no. The Big Bang is already proven. Google WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) for a start. Read John Gribbin's books for more in depth explanations. The information is out there, you're just being willfully ignorant.

      January 5, 2011 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
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