It’s quite possible that you’re now back at work after the holidays, and you’re thinking that you could have been more productive. Maybe you could have sent out the thank you letters, or at least cleaned out the fridge, instead of deciding to undertake, let’s say, a Doctor Who marathon. A ten year old discovering a supernova over her vacation probably won’t make you feel any better.
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.
But don’t worry. You too can do your cosmological part, and you don’t even need a telescope.
Galaxy Zoo: Hubble uses gorgeous imagery of hundreds of thousands of galaxies drawn from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope archive. To understand how these galaxies, and our own, formed we need your help to classify them according to their shapes — a task at which your brain is better than even the most advanced computer. If you’re quick, you may even be the first person in history to see each of the galaxies you’re asked to classify.
And for those of you not regretting your marathoning, you can combine the two. Here’s a Darker Projects radio drama about the TARDIS, the Silver Spiral Galaxy and exploding stars.
(H/t to Michael Ensley for the story, and to Daily Galaxy for the image)