Meet the woman behind the 1st ever black hole image

The first image of a black hole

The first image of a black hole

Some to build telescopes, some to map the stars, and others to do a supermassive amount of tweaking and troubleshooting to get that flawless shot.

Three years ago, Katie Bouman was an electrical engineering and computer science graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The effort to capture the image, using telescopes in locations ranging from Antarctica to Chile, involved a team of more than 200 scientists.

When humanity got its first glimpse of a black hole on Thursday, it was an unforgettable moment for 29-year-old Katie Bouman.

In the above time-lapse video from the European Southern Observatory taken over 20 years, the elliptical orbit of the star closest to Sagittarius A*, the Supermassive Black Hole (SMBH) that sits in the center of our galaxy, can been seen accelerating to a significant fraction of the speed of light at the perigee of its orbit.

The image of a black hole that's captivating people across the globe was the result of work from 200 scientists from 20 countries, including University of MI alum Katie Bouman. These images will create even clearer pictures-and will surely help science fiction produce more accurate visions of black holes than ever before.

Isn't that some top-rate visualisation of one's goals?

Black holes, phenomenally dense and coming in various sizes, are extraordinarily hard to observe by their very nature. Her dad says while she was still in high school, she was doing imaging research with Purdue professors.

The team faced the impossible task of figuring out a way to combine the masses of data from the telescopes that formed the Event Horizon Telescope network.

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Its mass is 6 1/2 billion times that of the sun and it was in a "modest active state" at the time of the photo, according to Sera Markoff, a member of the Event Horizon Telescope Science Council. In getting the instruments connected, they essentially created one Earth-size connected telescope.

An algorithm is a process or set of rules used to solve problems. The presence of black holes affects the surrounding environment in extreme ways. All the weak inputs in the images from the remaining parts of the planet that don't have a telescope were guesstimated by the algorithm.

"Congrats to Katie! What an incredible day, thanks to her brilliant work", the Smithsonian added.

The project was flexing its muscles back in 2016, and continues to, still. The fact that the EHT caught a black hole photograph is one big step in a long journey till the project realises its full potential.

It was at this processing center that Bauman and her team's work really came into action.

Orange you glad you've just seen the first-ever image of a black hole?

That's where Bouman's algorithm - along with several others - came in. The world could use more of that now (and forever after).

Dr. Bouman is now a post-doctoral fellow at MIT, but will soon start as an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at the California Institute of Technology. Dr Margaret Hamilton (see below) was helped put a man on the moon in 1969.

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