When I was 15 years old, I was just figuring out how to get away with oral sex in a movie theater without getting caught, as well as making unremarkable grades and listening to terrible music that Fred Durst probably had something to do with. Though that’s a vague summary of events, I can tell you for certain that I wasn’t analyzing galaxy clusters with my dad at that age. Or any age.
But 15-year-old Neil Ibata did, and his discovery was published in the pages of the journal Nature, in a resounding “Hurrah!” for young scientists. Neil was involved in analyzing dwarf galaxies surrounding our relatively close galactic neighbor, Andromeda, working with his father, Rodrigo Ibata, an astrophysicist and research director at the National Center for Scientific Research at the Astronomical Observatory of Strasbourg, as well as 15 other astronomers.
Neil himself developed the code for a computer simulation of these galaxies, showing the galaxies appear to move in a synchronized orbit, aligned in a vast, flat disc. Rodgrigo said they were “expecting the complete opposite” of what the model showed, and that this discovery could definitely switch up their understanding of how galaxies are formed, among other things.
And no, this isn’t a fluke on Neil’s part, as he is already a top scholar as an accelerated student at the Pontonniers International School in Strasbourg. He speaks German, English, Chinese, and Python programming languages, and he also studies piano. I’m going to assume if his summarized biography went on longer, it would state that he’s a perfect driver, he always ties a tie right on the first try, and that he set up a Wifi network using only tin cans and string. Oh, to be 15 again. I’d probably just go to the theater more.