Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Never too young...Kathryn Aurora Gray

"10-year old girl becomes youngest to discover a supernova"


Brian Osborne

January 5th, 2011

While some kids may want to be an astronomer when they grow up, one ten-year old girl has decided not to wait. Astronomy is not only in her blood, since her dad is an astronomer, but in her name as well. Kathryn Aurora Gray from Fredericton, New Brunswick became the youngest person to find a stellar explosion after she discovered a supernova on January 2nd.

The find, formally named Supernova 2010lt, was announced by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Kathryn found the supernova within an image taken at the Abbey Ridge Observatory on New Year’s Eve while being assisted by her dad, Paul Grey, and fellow astronomer David Lane.

Grey helped her daughter determine that the supernova she found was not an asteroid and was not on an existing list of known supernova. Lane, a local astronomer, verified the discovery and was the one who actually registered it on Kathryn’s behalf. Kathryn found the supernova using a process which compares new astronomical images to previously existing ones to find any changes.

Supernova 2010lt is a magnitude-17 supernova which resides within galaxy UGC 3378 which is 240 million light-years away. Supernovas are so bright compared to normal stars they can be found using modest telescopes. In fact, Kathryn’s discovery was verified by two amateur astronomers including Brian Tieman from Illinois and a fellow Canadian, Jack Newton, who currently resides in Arizona.

Deborah Thompson of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) is quoted as saying:

It’s fantastic that someone so young would be passionate about astronomy. What an incredible discovery. We’re all very excited.

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