Posted by: crudbasher | November 7, 2013

A 10 Year Old Discovers A Supernova

The implications of the Age Of Big Data are only now becoming more apparent. Many things in our society are now being digitized and put online. This data can then be used by people not connected to the initial creators. This is actually another manifestation of disaggregation. Researchers can collect the data but others can use the data and derive other meanings from it.


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.


Her father, Paul Gray, helped her make the discovery by taking the steps to rule out asteroids and checking the list of current known supernovas.

Looking for supernovas requires combing through dozens of old images of star fields and comparing them to new pictures. Special computer software that blinks helps viewers to identify new activity. The supernovas show up as bright spots on the star fields.

Paul Gray is an amateur astronomer and his daughter expressed an interest in the field last year. Kathryn learned that a 14-year-old discovered a supernova, and felt she could top that.

Note this didn’t happen in a school? Instead, it started with encouraging parents, coupled with a source of data and an interested student. I would like to see more data put online for students to use and explore. The field of data analysis is going to be a growth industry for quite some time. I also would like students to have access to supercomputers in order to run simulations on the data.


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