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Old 01-05-2011   #1
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10 Year Old Discovers Supernova!

And to think, she doesn't seem to want to be an Astronomer when she is older...

Quote:
N.B. astronomer, 10, youngest to discover supernova
The Canadian Press
Date: Mon. Jan. 3 2011 6:18 PM ET

FREDERICTON Kathryn Aurora Gray isn't interested in making a career out of astronomy when she grows up.

She might want to rethink that after becoming the youngest person to discover a supernova, or exploding star.

The 10-year-old Fredericton girl identified on the weekend a previously unseen burst of light in an expanse of stars 240 light-years away to better the previous record by four years.

"I was really excited. I had so much fun finding it," Gray said in an interview from her home Monday night. "I was so excited I didn't sleep that night waiting to find out."

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada confirmed the discovery Monday, saying the magnitude-17 supernova was found in galaxy UGC 3378 in the constellation of Camelopardalis.

The society also said Gray is the youngest person to ever make such a discovery.

Supernovas are stellar explosions that signal the violent deaths of stars several times more massive than our sun. They are rare events but are relatively easy to spot with modest telescopes because they outshine other stars.

The last supernova in our galaxy occurred several hundred years ago.

Finding a supernova is painstaking but fairly basic. You look at an older image of a starfield, then at a new image for bursts of light that weren't there before.

The new points of light could be comets or asteroids or bursts of instellar noise that Gray said show up on the images as streaks of light.

The star's demise was spotted in one of dozens of images made on New Year's Eve by David Lane at his observatory in Stillwater Lake, N.S., then emailed to Gray's father, Paul.

Gray said she spotted the supernova on her first ever attempt to find one and in the fourth of 52 images she examined. The discovery was soon verified by amateur astronomers in Illinois and Arizona.

Gray, who is in Grade 5, shares the discovery with her father and Lane.

"I don't think they name the supernova after me but it's still pretty cool to find one," she said.
Source and video interview
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Old 01-05-2011   #2
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Re: 10 Year Old Discovers Supernova!

Wow. That's amazing!

Though I'd feel a little let down after that. "When I was ten, I discovered a supernova." Can you top that experience/privilege? And you're only ten!
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Old 01-05-2011   #3
Zanahoria_Picante
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Re: 10 Year Old Discovers Supernova!

^ True dat. It's pretty hard to beat that, unless she discovers a full T-Rex skeleton--oh, or the Ark of the Covenant! But then I'm not sure how she could top that.... *Squints*

But that is pretty darn amazing, especially considering how rare they are. She sure isn't wasting any time not being impressive.
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