Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A cosmic explosion discovered by 10-year-old girl

A 10-year-old girl is the youngest person ever to have discovered an astral explosion or supernova.
Hailing from Fredericton, New Brunswick in Canada is Kathryn Aurora Gray who had detected the presence of a tiny, luminous spot from a distant galaxy called UGC 3378 on 2 January, that was about 240 million light-years away.
A light-year is the distance traveled by light in a period of one year.
Ten-year-old Gray told Toronto Star, "I'm really excited. It feels really good."
Gray made the discovery under his father's supervision, Paul, who himself had discovered six supernovas in the past. She was helped by family friend David Lane who had previously discovered three others.
Using Lane's telescope, Gray submitted the images of galaxy UGC 3378 to Brian Tiemen of Illinois and Jack Newton of Arizona--both amateur astronomers--who verified the astral explosions. They then reported the images to the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams of the International Astronomical Union.
Gray's discovery didn't bear her name. The blast was named Supernova 2010lt.
What are supernovas? They are violent and powerful cosmic blasts that mean the deaths of stars, and are many times bigger than the sun. These phenomena are interesting because they produce the basic elements that have created the Earth and other planets. Supernovas can also be used to measure the size and age of the universe.
Supernovas present themselves as bright point of light that outshine all the other stars, which are not seen in earlier observations. They can be spotted using an ordinary telescope.
By repeatedly monitoring and comparing different galaxies, the chances of seeing these astral explosions are increased.
The last cosmic explosion in the Milky Way happened several hundred years ago, a rare occurrence.
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