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World

Web Desk
April 11, 2019

Katie Bouman, the MIT grad who made first-ever photograph of black hole possible

World

Web Desk
Thu, Apr 11, 2019

Highlights

  • Katie Bouman, a computer scientist, took the lead on creating the algorithm that made the first-ever black hole picture possible
  • Photographing a black hole is "equivalent to taking an image of a grapefruit on the moon, but with a radio telescope": Bouman
  • The supermassive black hole immortalised by a far-flung network of radio telescopes is 50 million lightyears away at the centre of a galaxy known as M87.

BRUSSELS: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) post-doctoral student Katie Bouman, who isn’t an astronomer, amazingly played a vital role in taking the first-ever photograph of a black hole.

That historic first photo  of a black hole was released to the public on Wednesday after years of work on an international project called Event Horizon Telescope.

Katie Bouman, a computer scientist, took the lead on creating the algorithm that made it possible to take the photo 55 million light-years away from Earth.

According to the Event Horizon Telescope website, “This long-sought image provides the strongest evidence to date for the existence of supermassive black holes and opens a new window onto the study of black holes, their event horizons, and gravity.” In layman’s terms, this could change everything about how we think about the universe. 

Three years ago MIT grad student led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole.

The snap, which has only been available to the public eye for a few hours, was taken using a worldwide network of powerful telescopes back in 2017. 

The image of the black hole was taken in a galaxy known as M87, where, for 16 years, astronomers observed stars rotating in an orbit. 

Scientists observing the stars determined that they were rotating around a supermassive black hole, and it is that black hole the whole world is now getting a glimpse of, in large thanks to Bouman’s contributions.