Katie Bouman reacted modestly to her sudden celebrity status this week, but the scientist whose graduate school work helped lead to the first image of a black hole Wednesday, is getting her due.
Bouman, who is an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at Cal Tech, created an algorithm during grad school at MIT that made the image possible.
The 29-year-old worked with MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the MIT Haystack Observatory and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for the last several years, leading to the development of the algorithm.
The image of the black hole was captured from 55 million lights years away (one light year is equal to six trillion miles) in galaxy Messier 87.
The discovery was made by Event Horizon Telescope, an international project that describes itself as a “virtual Earth-sized telescope.”
Black holes have a mass 6.5 billion times that of the sun and "drastically warp the fabric of space-time," the National Science Foundation says on its website.
“3 years ago MIT grad student Katie Bouman led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole,” MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab tweeted Wednesday. “Today, that image was released.”
In another tweet, the lab added, "Scientist Katie Bouman just posted about the moment when 'the first image I ever made of a black hole' was processed. Just to clarify, this was the first image *ANYONE EVER MADE* of a black hole."