For many scientists, having their research published in a major journal is about as good as it gets — especially if that publication happens to be the prestigious journal Nature. But for 15-year old Neil Ibata, it's already a case of "been there, done that."
Working with a team of astronomers, including his father Rodrigo Ibata, Neil took part in an analysis of dwarf galaxies surrounding Andromeda, our nearest galactic neighbor. Working with his father, Neil developed the code for a computer model of these celestial objects. His simulation showed that the galaxies appear to orbit in concert and align in a vast, thin disk — a discovery that came as a complete surprise to the researchers.
Speaking to the news agency AFP, Rodrigo Ibata said he was "expecting the complete opposite" result. Though the researchers are not sure what it means, they believe the finding could reshape the understanding of how galaxies are formed.
And it shouldn't come as a complete surprise that Neil Ibata managed this tremendous accomplishment. He is an accelerated student attending the Pontonniers International School in Strasbourg. And in addition to his Python programming skills, he speaks German, English, and Chinese, and he studies piano at the local conservatory.
You can read the entire paper at Nature.
Image: Reuters/Jean-Marc Loos.