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Scientist superstar Katie Bouman designed algorithm for black hole image

AFP  |  New York 

Anonymous to the public just days ago, a US scientist named has become an overnight sensation due to her role in developing a algorithm that allowed researchers to take the world's first image of a

"I'm so excited that we finally get to share what we have been working on for the past year!" the 29 year-old Bouman, a at the Center for Astrophysics, gushed on her account Wednesday after the image was published.

The term "black hole" refers to a point in space where matter is so compressed that it creates a gravity field from which even light cannot escape.

The massive in the photo released Wednesday is 50 million light years away at the center of a galaxy known as M87.

While the existence of black holes have been long known, the phenomenon proved impossible to witness.

In 2016, Bouman developed an algorithm named CHIRP to sift through a true mountain of data gathered by the Event Horizon Telescope project from telescopes around the world to create an image.

The volume of data -- four petabytes (4 million billion bytes) -- was contained in a mountain of hard drives weighing several hundred pounds that had to be physically transported to the in Westford, Massachusetts, operated by the Institute of Technology (MIT).

To guarantee the accuracy of the image, the Harvard-Astrophysics Center, operated by University, gave the data to four different teams. Each team independently used the algorithm to obtain an image.

After a month of work, the four groups presented their results to the other teams.

"That was the happiest moment I've ever had [when] I saw all the other teams had images that were very similar, with the lower half brighter than the top half. It was amazing to see everyone got that," Bouman told

"No or person made this image," wrote Bouman, who in the fall will begin work as an at the (Cal Tech).

"It required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work to develop the instrument, data processing, methods, and analysis techniques that were necessary to pull off this seemingly impossible feat," she said on

"It has been truly an honour, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you all.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 11 2019. 23:25 IST
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