Meet the woman behind the first-ever image of a black hole

Katie Bouman

"(Bouman) was a major part of one of the imaging subteams", said Vincent Fish, a research scientist at MIT's Haystack Observatory.

Both MIT and the Smithsonian also tweeted to laud Bouman's achievements.

MIT Haystack Observatory scientist Kazunori Akiyama, along with many others, doubted if they would be able to see the black hole's shadow.

It's thanks to her and a huge team of other scientist and engineers that we can really begin to understand the incredible phenomena of black holes. The image of the black hole presented on Wednesday was not from any one method, but all the images from different algorithms that were blurred together.

On her Facebook page, Bouman shared the credit for the success with a team of scientists from across the world that worked on the project. "We all watched as the images appeared on our computers", Bouman says.

Instead, she developed an algorithm called Continuous High-Resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors (CHIRP), which uses a process called interferometry that combines the signals detected by telescopes to interfere with one another. She has been working on the project while a post-doctoral fellow at MIT and will soon start a job as an assistant professor at Caltech.

The image of M87 will occupy scientists for weeks, months and even years to come as they analyze it from every perspective. A team of over 200 researchers, including Bouman, made it happen.

This week, the world laid eyes on an image that previously it was thought was unseeable.

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Katherine Bouman had devoted years to the astonishing quest - to help capture the first image of a massive black hole in a distant galaxy, a void so dense no light can escape.

The MIT Grad, Katie, was still in school when she helped develop a computer program that created the image of the black hole.

The attention on Bouman may give a skewed impression of the number of women involved in the EHT project.

"It required the unbelievable 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", she said.

The computational telescope that Bouman and her colleagues managed to devise is theoretically as large as the Earth.

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.

In the image released Wednesday, the black hole is outlined by an orange ring that is actually emission from hot gas swirling near its event horizon.

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