Monday, 14 October, 2019

Katie Bouman: The woman behind the first black hole image

Katie Bouman The Brilliant Mind That Brought us the Image of a Black Hole Katie Bouman Facebook
Elijah Vega | 08 October, 2019, 08:26

"Three years ago MIT grad student Katie Bouman led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole", Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)'s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab tweeted Wednesday.

Her focus was on making sure the methods they used would show an image of precisely what was at the center of the M87 Galaxy, not just what the team hoped would be there. Black holes have historically been impossible to observe due to their nature of swallowing every bit of light that tries to escape it.

"Tip of the hat to MIT's Katie Bouman for her contribution to today's big announcement!" wrote Planetary Society, which is led by Bill Nye. But I tagged along to this meeting [where Shep Doeleman, the Harvard University astronomer who directs the Event Horizon Telescope project, was discussing black holes].

What's equally notable is that Katie Bouman did this without any evidence of anyone trying to derail her from her desired work objectives.

"Even though we had worked on this for years, I don't think any of us expected we would get a ring that easily", she says.

This is Dr Katie Bouman. And how can we come up with unique ways to merge the instrumentation and algorithms to get at measuring things that you can't measure with standard instruments. Along with others, it helped create the image of the black hole.

But Bouman herself quickly noted that she was not the only one responsible for the image of the black hole. She wrote on Facebook, "Watching in disbelief as the first image I ever made of a black hole was in the process of being reconstructed".

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"Telescopes around the world collected high-frequency radio waves from the vicinity of Messier 87, a supermassive black hole 54 million light-years away".

Bouman delivered a TED talk in 2016 called "How to take a picture of a black hole", where she explained "getting this first picture will come down to an global team of scientists, an Earth-sized telescope and an algorithm that puts together the final picture".

"To have to wait this long, it's been frustrating in one sense but now so incredible that we have the results", he told 7News. Astronomical images share these properties, and you can mathematically encode these properties, Fish said.

'Let's be real, she probably didn't do anything except sit around, ' one user wrote. "If you know what one pixel is, you have a good guess as to what the pixel is next to it".

The 29-year-old young lady is now an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech). "It came together because of lots of different people from many backgrounds".

Her algorithm was used in the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, a joint worldwide project which combines different telescopes around the globe into an Earth-sized telescope network allowing high-resolution imagery to be taken even in unexplored parts of the universe.

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