10-year-old girl discovers a supernova

Jan 04, 2011 by Nancy Atkinson
Supernova 2010lt discovered by Kathryn Aurora Gray. Image credit: Dave Lane.

A ten-year old girl from Canada has discovered a supernova, making her the youngest person ever to find a stellar explosion. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada announced the discovery by Kathryn Aurora Gray of Fredericton, New Brunswick, (wonderful middle name!) who was assisted by astronomers Paul Gray and David Lane. Supernova 2010lt is a magnitude 17 supernova in galaxy UGC 3378 in the constellation of Camelopardalis, as reported on IAU Electronic Telegram 2618. The galaxy was imaged on New Year’s Eve 2010, and the supernova was discovered on January 2, 2011 by Kathryn and her father Paul.

The observations were made from Abbey Ridge Observatory, and this is the third seen from this observatory. It was Lane’s fourth discovery, Mr. Gray’s seventh, and Kathryn’s first.

The discovery was soon verified by Illinois-based amateur astronomer Brian Tieman and Arizona-based Canadian amateur astronomer Jack Newton.

Since a supernova can outshine millions of ordinary stars, it can be easy to spot with a modest telescope, even in a distant galaxy like UGC 3378 which is about 240 million light-years away. The trick is to check previous images of the same location to see if there is any changes. That’s what Kathryn was doing for the images of the galaxy taken by her father.

Supernovas are stellar explosions that signal the violent deaths of stars several times more massive than our sun, and can be used to estimate the size and age of our universe.

Supernovas are rare events. The Chandra X-Ray telescope found evidence of a supernova explosion that occurred about 140 years ago in our galaxy (although no one saw the explosion take place), making it the most recent in the Milky Way. Previously, the last known supernova in our galaxy occurred around 1680, an estimate based on the expansion of its remnant, Cassiopeia A.

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User comments : 10

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Kingsix
5 / 5 (3) Jan 04, 2011
Huh, this makes me feel lame. I haven't discovered anything!
Pyle
5 / 5 (5) Jan 04, 2011
Child labor laws are being violated!!!

Nah, I'm just jealous. My kids can't find their jackets when they're standing on them.

I guess that makes me lame squared.
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (7) Jan 04, 2011
So if the universe is about 14 billion years old we should be seeing evidence of a great number of supernova remnants - especially type III.
But, unfortunately there are NONE. ZERO. ZIP.

So what's wrong with the theory?
CSharpner
5 / 5 (8) Jan 04, 2011
So what's wrong with the theory?

Well, since we don't know the answer right away, the obvious conclusion is a magical spirit commanded it to be so. Let's not bother look any further.

BTW, why do you say there are no supernova remnants at all? Many supernovas have been witnessed, including the one in this story. Take the crab nebula as one of many examples that was witnessed hundreds of years ago and its "remnants" are visible today. I'm confused what you mean.
Uri
5 / 5 (5) Jan 04, 2011
Have to love the observational sciences, no one shouting "What are your credentials, what peer reviewed journals have you been published in? You must be an industry shill!" No claims of a conspiracy theory. Of course there is the occasional comment on how the universe can't be that old, but they at least can't deny the presence of the phenomenon. Just something that can be seen and confirmed by observation. The nice thing about the sciences that amateurs can participate in is that there is little to no politics. Oh how I wish for a world where science was for everyone.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (3) Jan 05, 2011
So if the universe is about 14 billion years old we should be seeing evidence of a great number of supernova remnants - especially type III.
But, unfortunately there are NONE. ZERO. ZIP.

So what's wrong with the theory?


Uh, maybe because we are a small planet that has been looking for a few centuries which is about 2.9x10^-6 percent of the time the universe has existed and we have trouble watching the entire sky across 13.75 billion light years.

But if we assume the universe is 10,000 years old, we have the problem of seeing objects millions of light years away, which we can just remedy by stating that the universe was created that way with light already on it's way to us. We can just make up ad hoc's all day.

So I guess, in response to your question, and using creationist tactics, we don't see them because the universe has mysterious forces that cancel out some explosions but that force can't be seen or detected, but it's there because my ancestors wrote about it.

Husky
not rated yet Jan 05, 2011
with a middlename like that you are destined to study the heavens
71STARS
1 / 5 (3) Jan 05, 2011
Congratulations. But did you see the "birth" of a star and not the death explosion of a star? I am not a believer that supernovas are as stated. You may have seen the glow of a star being born by a Parent Star. New thinking is required. Keep looking and learning.
Oliver_k_Manuel
1 / 5 (3) Jan 05, 2011
neutron repulsion
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Jan 06, 2011
Nonsense as usual Oliver.

Where is the evidence for neutron decay in bound neutrons such as iron. The iron claim is the source of the alleged neutron decay.

Ethelred