Today is the 11th of February, which means that it is also the day to celebrate all the women and girls that have dedicated their life to science! To celebrate this very important day, we think it would be appropriate if we could talk about the achievement of one particular woman in the modern era: Katie Bouman!
But who is she, and what did she actually do that made her get so much attention in 2019?
Katie Bouman and the Black Hole
Katie Bouman is a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team that captured the very first image of a black hole in 2019. Back then, she was the one leading the development of the algorithm used for imaging black holes. The algorithm is then known as Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors (CHIRP).
According to her conversation with NewsHour, the project she was leading began somewhere around 2013. She heard about the meeting and decided to go to the meeting to hear what Shep Doeleman, the project director of Event Horizon Telescope had to say. During the meeting, Bouman did not understand anything that Doeleman had said, but she was really eager to work on the project.
Assembling what was needed
What Katie Bouman first did as she joined the team to process the very first image of the black hole was to wait, because the team was still trying to get the equipment needed to actually capture the image of the said black hole. That is because from the Earth, it will be very hard to actually see a black hole; even if you could, the black hole would appear very small.
To see that black hole, the Event Horizon Telescope team would need an Earth-sized telescope. However, because it was impossible to make an Earth-sized telescope dish, they use 8 different telescopes. Those telescopes are located in France, Spain, Chile, Mexico, Greenland, South Pole, and two in Arizona, United States.
Once the data from each telescope are gathered, and then begin the work of Katie Bouman and her team of 200 computer scientists. The algorithm they created takes the data and information that are incomplete from their virtual telescope, and then fills the missing information. Filling the missing information is actually the hardest problem. However, they pushed through and finally for the first time, mankind could set their eyes on black hole.
How important is the image of a black hole?
Many of you might be asking how important is the image of black hole that Katie Bouman and her team helped take. The fact is, the image itself is a total breakthrough, according to Sheperd Doeleman.
The first existence of black holes was first hinted in Einstein’s theory of general relativity. However, for so long, mankind never actually sees the form of black hole that is said to be able to suck everything and there is no way to come out of the said black hole.
Now, with the hard work of the team led by Katie Bouman, we can finally see and be sure that black holes existed, because Einstein himself was never sure whether the black holes existed or not. Those black holes are out there, and we cannot look away from them.