January 5, 2011


10-year-old Kathryn Gray of Birdton, New Brunswick, Canada has discovered a supernova, the youngest person ever to make such a finding. How would a ten-year-old have access to the equipment needed to spot a supernova, you might ask? She was working with her father, astronomer Paul Gray.

Supernovas happen when huge stars explode and die. You can see it through a telescope because an exploding star gives off a very bright light, much more brilliant than anything around it. Kathryn’s supernova happened in a distant galaxy called UGC 3378, which is about 240 million light-years away from our Milky Way Galaxy.

Kathryn was helping her father by studying “before and after” images of the same place in that galaxy, using an instrument called a blink telescope – that way you can see when something new has happened. And sure enough, she found a supernova.

If her teacher asks the class this week to write about “what I did over my winter vacation,” Kathryn Gray is certainly going to have a story to tell!


Photo Credit: David Smith/AP


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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