Katie Bouman

Katherine Louise Bouman (/ˈbaʊmən/; born 1989) is an American engineer and computer scientist working in the field of computer imagery. She led the development of an algorithm for imaging black holes, known as Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors (CHIRP), and was a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team that captured the first image of a black hole.

Bouman studied electrical engineering at the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude in 2011. She earned her master’s degree (2013) and doctoral degree (2017) in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

At MIT, she was a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). This group also worked closely with MIT’s Haystack Observatory and with the Event Horizon Telescope. She was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship. Her master’s thesis, Estimating Material Properties of Fabric through the Observation of Motion, was awarded the Ernst Guillemin Award for best Master’s Thesis in electrical engineering. Her Ph.D. dissertation, Extreme imaging via physical model inversion: seeing around corners and imaging black holes, was supervised by William T. Freeman. Prior to receiving her doctoral degree, Bouman delivered a TEDx talk, How to Take a Picture of a Black Hole, which explained algorithms that could be used to capture the first image of a black hole.

How to take a picture of a black hole

Katie Bouman: How to take a picture of a black hole

At the heart of the Milky Way, there’s a supermassive black hole that feeds off a spinning disk of hot gas, sucking up anything that ventures too close — even light. We can’t see it, but its event horizon casts a shadow, and an image of that shadow could help answer some important questions about the universe.

The California Institute of Technology, which hired Bouman as an assistant professor in June 2019, awarded her a named professorship in 2020. 

In 2021, asteroid 291387 Katiebouman was named after her.

Source: Katie Bouman – Wikiwand


The First Image of a Black Hole

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration — was designed to capture images of a black hole. In coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers revealed that they succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of the supermassive black hole in the centre of Messier 87 and its shadow.

The shadow of a black hole seen here is the closest we can come to an image of the black hole itself, a completely dark object from which light cannot escape. The black hole’s boundary — the event horizon from which the EHT takes its name — is around 2.5 times smaller than the shadow it casts and measures just under 40 billion km across. While this may sound large, this ring is only about 40 microarcseconds across — equivalent to measuring the length of a credit card on the surface of the Moon.

Although the telescopes making up the EHT are not physically connected, they are able to synchronize their recorded data with atomic clocks — hydrogen masers — which precisely time their observations. These observations were collected at a wavelength of 1.3 mm during a 2017 global campaign.

Each telescope of the EHT produced enormous amounts of data – roughly 350 terabytes per day – which was stored on high-performance helium-filled hard drives. These data were flown to highly specialised supercomputers — known as correlators — at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and MIT Haystack Observatory to be combined. They were then painstakingly converted into an image using novel computational tools developed by the collaboration.

Source: File:Black hole – Messier 87.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Making the first picture of a black hole

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