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6-min read

Katie Bouman, the Scientist Behind the First-Ever Black Hole Image, is Now an Internet Star

MIT graduate and scientist Katie Bouman led the creation of an algorithm that helped humanity witness the first ever image of the black hole.

Anurag Verma | News18.com

Updated:April 11, 2019, 7:30 PM IST
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Katie Bouman, the Scientist Behind the First-Ever Black Hole Image, is Now an Internet Star
Image posted by Katie Bouman on Facebook.
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Katie Bouman. Memorise the name.

"Watching in disbelief as the first image I ever made of a black hole was in the process of being reconstructed," wrote an ecstatic 29-year-old Katie Bouman, the scientist, who led the creation of an imaging algorithm that helped humanity witness the first-ever image of a Supermassive Black Hole.

On April 10, 2019 (mark the date), an event of literally astronomical importance to the scientific world and the theory of worlds in general, took place, with the first actual image of a Supermassive Black Hole was taken and released to the public by the Event Horizon Telescope.

The telescope - a network of eight radio telescopes stationed at different points of the world - managed to capture an image of the black hole that sits in the centre of Messier 87 galaxy and is 6.5 billion times the size of our sun and is located 55 lightyears away from Earth.

Not the fastest jet nor even light can escape black hole, the fact that the image proves Albert Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, didn't escape the conversation among scientists either.

A massive day for science and for the woman scientists, MIT CSAIL (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory), tweeted out a photo of Katie Bouman, chronicling her successful journey with the Twitterverse.

"3 years ago MIT grad student Katie Bouman led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole. Today, that image was released."

Realising the importantance of the image, Twitter made it a point to spread Katie's photo, for, netizens didn't want her achievement to get sucked into a black hole.

"Congratulations to Katie Bouman to whom we owe the first photograph of a black hole ever. Not seeing her name circulate nearly enough in the press. Amazing work. And here’s to more women in science (getting their credit and being remembered in history) ☄️" wrote one user.

A BBC photo of Katie Bouman photographed with a stack of hard disks used to combine data and process Supermassive Black Hole image reminded Twitter users of Margaret Hamilton's iconic photo of her with Apollo Guidance Computer source code (that got us to the moon!) she and her team developed back in 1969.

Twitter knew what to do.

Katie, on the other hand, ensured that her team, who meticulously worked with her over the years to achieve such a feat, were recognised by everyone.

"I'm so excited that we finally get to share what we have been working on for the past year! The image shown today is the combination of images produced by multiple methods. No one algorithm or person made this image, it required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work to develop the instrument, data processing, imaging methods, and analysis techniques that were necessary to pull off this seemingly impossible feat. It has been truly an honor, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you all," Katie wrote on her Facebook page.

But how did she manage to take the picture of Supermassive Black Hole?

Katie explained how a picture of the ultimate dark using the Event Horizon Telescope could be taken back in 2016 during her TED talk - How to take a picture of a black hole.

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