Meet the woman who helped create algorithm for capturing black hole photo

Katie Bouman

Katie Bouman

Bouman has since graduated from MIT and will start as an assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology this fall.

Well, one 29-year-old has trumped your efforts with a photo of her loading the first ever image of a black hole on Wednesday.

The black hole was first theorised by Albert Einstein to explain areas in space of dense matter, where even light itself can not escape.

Feryal Ozel, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona who was the modeling and analysis lead on the project, told ABC News the gender breakdown was "pretty dismal", noting that there were about three senior women, including herself, out of about 200 total scientists on the project.

Naturally, this momentous occasion propelled Bouman to well-deserved fame, and social media platforms are still ringing with praise for her achievement.

Bouman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but told CNN, "No one of us could've done it alone".

"Bouman prepared a large database of synthetic astronomical images and the measurements they would yield at different telescopes, given random fluctuations in atmospheric noise, thermal noise from the telescopes themselves, and other types of noise". They were tasked with essentially hitting go on a supercomputer that would combine the data from each telescope and finally reveal the image the world was anxiously waiting to see. The algorithm stitched together data collected from radio telescopes scattered around the globe, through a collaboration, called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Nasa added that this black hole is 6.5 million times the mass of the Sun. With the extra imaging muscle, she says, they may one day be able to create videos of black holes in addition to the still images.

Katie's method of processing the raw data was instrumental in creating the first ever black hole image. In one photo from the BBC, Bouman is standing next to a table stacked with hard drives of data.

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The image was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of eight linked telescopes, before being rendered by Bouman's algorithm, the BBC reported.

Vincent Fish, a research scientist at the observatory, said Haystack served as an equipment clearinghouse, sending special components and systems for recording data from the black hole project to observatories worldwide.

The black hole from the galaxy Messier 87 got the meme treatment here on Earth shortly after its internet debut.

When she joined the team six years ago, Bouman didn't know a thing about black holes.

The existence of black holes, caused by the collapse of stars, has been known for decades.

Bouman said in an interview with Nature that the breakthrough is just the beginning of learning more about black holes. It was probably the most exciting moment I've ever had with the project.

But last summer, when the teams gathered at the Black Hole Initiative to share their findings, the startling similarities prompted an outpouring of celebration and awe.

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