Meet Katie Bouman, woman behind first black hole photo

Despite the tall order, an global team of more than 200 researchers unveiled the first-ever image of a black hole on Wednesday.

She's heading to the California Institute of Technology this year where she will be an assistant professor in the Department of Computing and Mathematical Sciences.

"Computer scientist Katie Bouman and her awesome stack of hard drives for #EHTblackhole image data", Nature News writer Flora Graham tweeted with an image of the two MIT computer scientists side by side.

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.

Three years ago, when she was a graduate student at MIT studying electrical engineering and computer science, Bouman led the creation of special algorithms that allowed the results from the telescopes to be merged into one image.

The black hole was first theorised by Albert Einstein to explain areas in space of dense matter, where even light itself can not escape.

Her groundbreaking algorithm stitched together "data collected from radio telescopes scattered around the globe", reported MIT News.

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Dr Bouman could not hide her delight.

She told CNN: "No one of us could've done it alone".

"You're basically looking at a supermassive black hole that's nearly the size of our entire solar system", said Sera Markoff, professor at the University of Amsterdam, "and, in fact, that's part of the reason we can see it even though it's so far away".

They took the "sparse and noisy data" that the telescopes spit out and tried to make an image. Of course, senior scientists worked on the project, but the imaging portion was mostly led by junior researchers, such as graduate students and post docs. The ring of material that surrounds M87*, which has the mass of 6.5 billion suns, "is something that we were incredibly confident about". And Bouman's contribution was a crucial one in the recent, epic success that sped that process of trial-and-error considerably.

First came the breathtaking image, the first one to ever show a black hole, in a galaxy about 55 million light-years from Earth.

Katie's method of processing the raw data was instrumental in creating the first ever black hole image. No one algorithm or person made this image, 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. Throughout her talk, she breaks down complexities of programming, imaging and black hole physics in simple (and some, hilarious) metaphors.

Black holes are the "most extreme environment in the known universe", Broderick said, a violent, churning place of "gravity run amok". It was probably the most exciting moment I've ever had with the project. To get an image of the black hole, you'd need a large telescope.

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