© Adam Burn/deviantART
An artist’s sketch of a supernova explosion.
New observations confirm that young Nathan Gray's discovery
is indeed a supernova explosion, albeit a rather peculiar one. Nathan Gray, age 10, discovered a new cosmic source on October 30th that emerged in the constellation of Draco, and it was subsequently classified as a supernova candidate
. Evidence available at the time
was sufficiently convincing that Nathan was promptly heralded as the youngest individual to discover a supernova.
The discovery garnered world-wide attention, however, confirmation via a spectrum from a large telescope was necessary to unambiguously
identify the target as a supernova. In addition, that observation would enable astronomers to determine the supernova class and identify the progenitor of the exploding star. In other words, was the star initially comparable in mass to the Sun and a member of a binary system
, or was the original star significantly more massive and a neutron star
is potentially all that remains?
The new observations were acquired by Lina Tomasella and Leonardo Tartaglia of the Padova-Asiago Supernova Group
, and imply that the supernova stems from a star significantly more massive than the Sun. Andrea Pastorello
, a member of that group, noted that the target's spectrum displays the presence of hydrogen (specifically H-alpha emission), which rules out the scenario of a lower-mass progenitor in a binary system (those are classified as type Ia).