Image of the moment when the researcher whose algorithm helped rebuild the very first image of a black hole quickly made its way on the Internet.
The 29-year-old scientist Katie Bouman was surprised when she saw the fruits of her and many others around the world for the first time, bearing fruit.
"Watch with disbelief that the first image I made of a black hole was being rebuilt," wrote Ms. Bouman on Facebook, accompanying the photo. "I'm so excited that we can finally share what we've been working on for a year!"
Bouman, a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, began working on the algorithm as a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she studied electrical engineering and computer science.
She was one of three dozen computer scientists using algorithms to process data collected by the Event Horizon Telescope project, a global collaboration of astronomers, engineers, and mathematicians, the Washington Post reported.
"The image shown today is the combination of images produced by several methods," wrote Bouman. "No algorithm or anyone created this image, it took the incredible talent of a team of scientists from around the world and years of hard work to develop the instrument, data processing, imaging methods and the analytical techniques necessary to achieve this objective. " a seemingly impossible feat. It is truly an honor and I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you all. "
The photo was made with equipment that detects wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye. So astronomers added color to transmit the fierce heat of gas and dust, which shone at temperatures of up to millions of degrees. But if a person approached that black hole, it might not be like that, the astronomers said.
"It's kind of the beginning of a new window on what black holes can tell us about our love and about physics," Ms. Bouman told the science journal Nature.
"We have already learned a lot, even though we predicted that if you had a black hole, you would have this ring of light, we did not know we were going to get it – and that's what we were kind of test.
"We could have had just one spot – so see this ring and see a ring whose size matches that of other measures that had been made completely differently, I think that in itself, be able to see that crown of light, see what's there, it's huge. "
Black holes constitute "the most extreme environment of the known universe," said theoretical physicist of the University of Waterloo, Avery Broderick, in a violent and restless place of gravity run amok ". Unlike smaller black holes, which originate from collapsed stars, super massive black holes are of mysterious origin.
The black hole is about 6 billion times the mass of our sun and is in a galaxy called M87. Its "horizon of events" – the precipice, or the point of no return where light and matter are sucked inexorably into the hole – has the size of our entire solar system.