Tuesday, January 4, 2011

10-Year-Old Girl Discovers Supernova

10-year-old Kathryn Aurora Gray of Fredericton, New Brunswick has become the youngest person ever to discover a supernova.  Miss Gray discovered the supernova on January 2, 2011. 

Supernova 2010lt is a magnitude-17 in galaxy UGC 3378, in the constellation of Camelopardalis.  It is about 240 million light years away from earth.  Katheryn Gray discovered the supernova from Abbey Ridge Observatory under the watchful eyes of her father, astronomer Paul Gray, and astronomer David Lane.  Supernova 2010lt is Paul Gray's seventh supernova discovery and David Lane's fourth.

Supernovas are stellar explosions that signal the violent deaths of stars several times larger than the sun.  They can be used to estimate the size and age of the universe.  Supernovas are rare.  The Chandra X-Ray Observatory found evidence of one which took place around 140 years ago in our galaxy.  Before that, the last known supernova in the Milky Way occurred around 1680.

Congratulations, Kathryn!  This might just be the start of a long and illustrious career in astronomy for young Miss Gray!

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