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

The first-ever image of a black hole was released Wednesday

Fish spoke with WBUR's Anthony Brooks on Radio Boston Wednesday, saying he's been working toward this one image for more than a decade.

Bouman's algorithm - CHIRP (or Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors) - uses the sparse data collected from telescopes to help choose and verify an image to help fill in the gaps.

Four teams of scientists worked independently to analyze their data, retrieved over 10 days in April 2017 by telescopes from Mexico to Antarctica to Hawaii.

"It has been truly an honor, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you all", she wrote.

Bouman's role in the project has been widely celebrated around the world following the presentation of the image. And we owe it all to computer scientist Katie Bouman. "The ring came so easily". A team of over 200 researchers, including Bouman, made it happen.

Interestingly, newspaper reports state that Bowman comes from a computer science and electrical engineering background, and at one time, did not even know what a black hole was. She quickly embraced the challenge to measure and see the impossible.

The sheer distance of the black hole from Earth meant it would be akin to photographing an orange on the Moon's surface.

Dr Bouman could not hide her delight. It portrays a supermassive black hole at the center of M87, a galaxy which is more than 50 million light years away from our planet.

The project, named Even Horizon Telescope, is the biggest experiment of its kind.

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IMAGE: Reaction of Katie Bouman, who led the creation of an algorithm to produce first image of black hole.

The existence of black holes has always been taken for granted because of the severe effect their gravity has on the orbits of stars in the galactic core.

This kind of motion could only be produced by an object of huge mass that could only be an SMBH.

That's pretty much what she did in creating the algorithm behind the black hole close-up. Which is what we have the privilege of doing now.

As the project's website explains, the light data can tell researchers about the structure of the black hole, but there is still missing data which stops them from creating a complete image.

The new image confirmed yet another piece of Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Up next for Bouman is a new job. For Katie Bouman, it was all that, plus the culmination of three years of work, the realization of a goal that scientists thought to be impossible, and the event that will launch her into history. The talented thinker will continue to contribute to the Event Horizon team as well.

Katie Bouman reacting to the first real image of a black hole Wednesday.


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