April 21, 2019

Meet Katie Bouman, the STEM hero behind today’s black hole photo

11 April 2019, 11:55 | Edward Lowe

This is the first ever photo of a black hole

Black hole seen for first time in image showing matter being sucked into timeless oblivion

Using imaging algorithms like Bouman's, researchers created three scripted code pipelines to piece together the picture.

"It took them two years to analyze the data", added the former astronaut, who logged more than 570 hours in space.

We are not going to go into the details of what black holes or how they are formed or what their properties are.

Studying the evolution of stars in the 1920s and 1930s, nuclear physicists reached the seemingly unavoidable conclusion that if massive enough, certain stars would end their lives in a catastrophic gravitational collapse resulting in a singularity and the creation of a "frozen star". In the optical range, the ring around the black hole would likely appear white, perhaps tinged with blue or red, according to Fox.

Today, scientists behind the Event Horizon Telescope unveiled an image of this phenomenon - not a photograph, but a reconstructed picture of the shadow that the black hole casts on the light behind it, created from data taken by eight telescopes around the world.

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A Facebook screenshot of Kevin Koay Jun Yi giving a lecture on the EHT project in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) on January 29. He announced the image discovery.

"We have seen what we thought was unseeable".

She recalls standing in Mexico two years ago, at one of the sites where telescopes were collecting data on a galaxy 54 million light years away, information she would eventually help transform. The photo shows a ring of dust and gas surrounding the shadow of a mass at the center of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy.

The project has also targeted another black hole - Sagittarius A* - situated at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy. It has a mass 6.5 billion times greater than Earth's sun. The EHT network works as good as "a telescope the size of the Earth" would to image black holes.

Dimitrios Psaltis is an EHT project scientist from the University of Arizona in Tucson. It's an unprecedented test of whether Einstein's ideas about the very nature of space and time hold up in extreme circumstances, and looks closer than ever before at the role of black holes in the universe. That discovery also confirmed Einstein's theory.

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Sheperd Doeleman said the new image provides the first visual evidence to confirm that theory.

Perhaps most notably, the Interstellar black hole has a thin streak of matter around its centre, which M87's black hole seems to lack.

"You could have seen something that was unexpected, but we didn't see something that was unexpected". "We saw something that really had a ring to it if you can use that phrase".

Even though the data was first gathered in 2017, it required a huge effort to produce the image released on Wednesday. He got involved after he joined the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) as a postdoctoral fellow in 2016 and was among the first 20 people to see the images.

Jessica Dempsey is deputy director of the East Asian Observatory in Hawaii and a co-discoverer in the project. We do not know for sure if the astronomers have been able to record an image of the black hole.

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