Nathan Gray of Greenwood, Nova Scotia, made history last week by discovering a new supernova, and he's now set to become the youngest person ever to do so.
What's even more amazing about his discovery is that he's not the first person in his family to have found a new supernova, and he's not even the first to have claimed the title as youngest when he found it. It all started in 1995 when Nathan's father, Paul, was just 22 years old. He and his friend Dave Lane located supernova SN1995F. The two went on to find two more supernovas, SN2005B and SN2005ea, after Lane completed his backyard observatory the year before. Then, on New Year's Eve 2010, Paul's daughter Kathryn discovered supernova SN2010lt, becoming the youngest person to ever discover one at age 10. Now, Nathan follows in his family's proud footsteps, beating out his sister's record by just 33 days.
Nathan's new discovery is possible supernova PSN J18032459+7013306, located around 580 million light years away from us in PGC 61330 — a galaxy in the constellation Draco. You can see it in the image to the right. It's the faint dot just to the upper left of the bright dot that represents Galaxy PGC 61330.
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This supernova 's still just a 'possible' one at the moment. As of October 31st, the Anys Llum Observatory in Ager, Spain, confirmed the sighting, but now the International Astronomical Union has to verify the find and give it its official name. That can take a little bit of time, but even if someone younger comes along and locates another one in the mean time, Nathan will still hold the title at least for a little while.
Congratulations, Nathan! Great work, and here's wishing you many more amazing discoveries!
(Images courtesy: Paul Gray/Dave Lane)
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