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Ernst is a mutant student of the Xavier's Institute.
No information could be found on Ernst's life before becoming a student in Charles Xavier's Special Class that she attends nor could the nature of her genetic mutation be fully identified or understood.
Mayor Story Arcs
Ernst, who appears to have befriended her disembodied fellow student Martha Johansson, briefly joined the Brotherhood founded by the drug-induced Magneto when he went on a destructive rampage in New York. Ernst did not show any signs of aggression herself.
Ernst is one of the few mutants who have retained their powers after the events of M-Day. She continued living with the X-Men, though she didn't make the cut for the New X-Men team because she was excused by Emma Frost from the battle royal. She joined the X-men once more when the re-located to a former base of Magneto, named Utopia. This was after the original school was destroyed in the events of Messiah Complex.
Wolverine and the X-men
Recently Ernst joined Wolverine and many of the students back to the ground of the original Xavier's Institute, now known as the Jean Grey School.
Powers and appearance
Ernst is a super-strong mutant.
While she appears to be an elderly woman, Ernst is actually a young girl. Ernst may suffer from progeria, a genetic disorder that results in premature aging; however, it is also possible that her appearance is a result of her mutant nature.
Earth-15104: Here Comes Tomorrow Ersnt had died long before this alternate future began.
Martha Johansson was accompanied Cassandra Nova, who was also small & elderly looking like Ernst. As Martha suffered from Alzheimer's Disease she would often mistakenly call Cassandra "Ernst". As Cassandra Nova had softened over the years, she allowed her companion to live under the delusion that she was Ernst, right up to their final battle against Sublime when they were both killed.
Because Cassandra Nova allowed Martha Johansson to mistakenly call her "Ernst", some readers have become confused & therefore assumed that the real Ernst of mainstream Earth-616 continuity was really a disguise for Cassandra Nova. Ernst had died long before this timeline was published, and therefore was not Cassandra Nova.