Meet the Woman Who Made It Possible to Take 1st Ever Pic of a Black Hole That Has Everyone Talking

Junie Sihlangu
Apr 11, 2019
11:57 A.M.

On Wednesday, an international team of more than 200 researchers shared the first-ever image of a black hole. However, this achievement would not have been possible without the help of one person.


A woman worked on the algorithm that allowed the amazing image to be caught on film.

Getting an image of a black hole in space was a task that seemed impossible for scientists because of the complexity. Documenting a black hole was “like trying to take a photo of an orange that's on the moon with your smartphone.”


If it wasn’t for Katie Bouman helping out, the achievement would’ve continued to elude the scientists. Bouman, 29, developed a crucial algorithm that assisted with devise imaging methods.

Three years ago when she was a graduate student in computer science and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Bouman led the creation of the algorithm. Today we have a picture of a supermassive black hole and its shadow at the center of a galaxy known as M87.


What made the task so difficult all this time was because black holes are far away and compact. They’re also said to be invisible despite giving off a shadow when they interact with the materials around them.

With Bouman and other’s help, imaging algorithms were used by researchers to create three scripted code pipelines to piece together the picture. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) was designed to capture images of a black hole.


It’s a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes which work through international collaboration. Vincent Fish, a research scientist at MIT's Haystack Observatory, gave Bouman most of the credit.

He said, "[Bouman] was a major part of one of the imaging subteams.” Fish continued: "One of the insights Katie brought to our imaging group is that there are natural images."


He added:

"Just think about the photos you take with your camera phone -- they have certain properties. ... If you know what one pixel is, you have a good guess as to what the pixel is next to it."


Speaking about all the credit she’s been getting Bouman said: "No one of us could've done it alone. It came together because of lots of different people from many backgrounds."


In the fall, she will start work as an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at the California Institute of Technology. MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab took to Twitter with a series of posts to honor the young scientist.

The image of the black hole was the first-ever direct visual evidence that they actually exist. The supermassive black hole has a mass that is 6.5 billion times that of our sun.

Sheperd Doeleman, the director of the EHT Collaboration said: "We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole."

Please fill in your e-mail so we can share with you our top stories!
By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy
Related posts

Woman Discovers Empty Apartment behind Her Bathroom Mirror and Decides to Check It

May 17, 2022

Fixing Old Widow’s Roof, Men Find Stash Her Husband Left and Decide to Stay Silent about It – Story of the Day

March 21, 2022

Woman Finds Hidden Safe in a Fireplace after Buying New House, Looks inside with a Spycam

May 07, 2022

Elderly Couple Is Led by a Cat to a Black Bag, Sees a Tiny Hand Hanging from Inside — Story of the Day

May 10, 2022

Sissy Spacek & Jack Fisk Are Married for 48 Years Although They ‘Never Expected a Lifelong Relationship’

February 16, 2022

13 Years after Son Dies, Woman Gets Letter from Boy Who Calls Her 'Mom' and Invites Her to Prom — Story of the Day

January 27, 2022

Tom Brady & Pregnant Bridget Moynahan Split - She Wed Husband at Secret Ceremony 9 Years Later

February 20, 2022

Mom Hears Terrifying Sounds from Baby Monitor, Finds Out Her Baby Is Not Alone in the Room

May 22, 2022

Inside Tom Bergeron's Marriage with Wife of 39 Years Who Helped Him with His Anger Management

April 14, 2022

Years after Artist’s Death, His Son Becomes Homeless and Finds His Painting in a Dumpster – Story of the Day

April 13, 2022

Man Waits for Son He Has Not Seen in Years at the Airport, Does Not Find Boy among Passengers – Story of the Day

April 29, 2022

Mila Kunis & Ashton Kutcher Designed Farmhouse with 'Future of Their Family' in Mind ⁠— Inside Their Home

April 19, 2022

Woman Returns Home from Work and Finds Out Son She Left with His Stepfather Has Disappeared— Story of the Day

May 03, 2022

Woman Flees Her Burning Home in a Rush, Months Later Returns and Sees Luxury House in Its Place – Story of the Day

February 11, 2022