We have a new science icon, and her name is Katie.
Have you seen the photo of the black hole? You know, the first one every recorded? The amount of science it took to create this one orange doughnut looking photo is truly amazing. This space phenomenon is 6.2 billions times the size of the sun, and is at the center of galaxy M87, which is 55 million light-years from Earth.
(You will find it right around the corner from galaxy M86, past the Casey’s then turn left at the old red barn with the brown dog)
First up, this historic photo would have been possible without one female grad student from MIT named Katie Bouman. Dr. Bouman, 3 years ago, was a postdoctoral student at MIT when she led a team that designed one of the algorithms that helped analyze data that led to the first image of a black hole. Now she is a professor at Cal Tech and is going to be in the history books as a legend.
On April 10, the European Commission presented a ground-breaking discovery by Event Horizon Telescope. This was an international scientific collaboration aiming to capture the first image of a black hole by creating a virtual Earth-sized telescope. The predictions of what would be seen and what was actually captured were remarkably similar.
So what is next? This image, which adds support to Einstein’s theory of relativity, will be studied by scientists who didn’t believe a black hole could every be photographed. New sharpened images should be coming soon, made possible by already existing algorithms.
Susan Saunders 4/11/19