Canadian girl the youngest to discover a supernova

For amateur astronomers, discovering a supernova is a significant and rare feat. For a 10-year-old amateur to do it — well, that’s astronomical.

Kathryn Aurora Gray of Fredericton, N.B. is basking in the spotlight after noticing what was later determined to be a magnitude 17 supernova, or exploding star, on New Year’s Eve.

It’s in the distant galaxy UGC 3378, about 240 million light years away, in the constellation of Camelopardalis.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada says Kathryn is the youngest person to make such a discovery, which was soon verified by amateur astronomers in Illinois and Arizona. The finding has been reported to, confirmed and announced by the International Astronomical Union.

Supernovas are stellar explosions that signal the violent deaths of stars several times the mass of our sun. They are extremely bright, and cause a burst of radiation…

She is still on Christmas break, so none of her schoolmates know yet, except for one of her friends who popped by for a play date Monday…

Paul Gray is an amateur astronomer and his daughter expressed an interest in the field last year. Kathryn learned that a 14-year-old discovered a supernova, and felt she could top that…

It’s fantastic that someone so young would be passionate about astronomy. What an incredible discovery. We’re all very excited,” said Deborah Thompson, executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

The new supernova is called Supernova 2010lt.

I think it should be called Kathryn.

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