10-year-old makes us feel inadequate by discovering a supernova

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Dec 14, 2012

Ten-year-olds are usually too busy playing with their Nintendo DSs to make scientific discoveries. Not Kathryn Gray. Over her Christmas vacation, she discovered a supernova 240 million light-years away.

If 10 is a young age to be scientifically minded, it's possibly because Gray was born to it. Her father Paul—an amateur astronomer and probably the one who gave her the middle name "Aurora"—has been searching for supernovae since before she was born. Amateur astronomer David Lane, who provided the images from an observatory he built in his backyard, told the Globe and Mail that "Kathryn was often on her father's knee when they were looking for supernovas a few years ago."

The young Canadian's supernova has now been dubbed "Supernova 2010lt."

According to the BBC:

Supernovas are of interest to astronomers because they manufacture most of the chemical elements that went into making the Earth and other planets, says the RASC. Distant supernovas can be used to estimate the size and age of our universe.

Although Gray seems incredibly precocious, there is one way in which she's very much a 10-year-old: She decided to search for a supernova because she learned that a 14-year-old had discovered a supernova, and she wanted to beat that record.