Dr. Katie Bouman
Dr. Katie Bouman is an American computer scientist working in the field of imaging. She was a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team that captured the first direct image of a black hole, imaged by the Event Horizon Telescope and published in April 2019:
Dr. Bouman led the development of an algorithm for imaging black holes, known as Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors, or CHIRP. CHIRP inspired image validation procedures used in acquiring the first image of a black hole in April 2019. Dr. Bouman played a significant role in the project by verifying images, selecting parameters for filtering images taken by the Event Horizon Telescope and participating in the development of a robust imaging framework that compared the results of different image reconstruction techniques.
Dr. Bouman joins the California Institute of Technology as an assistant professor in June 2019, where she plans to work on new systems for computational imaging using computer vision and machine learning.
Her group is analyzing the Event Horizon Telescope's images to learn more about general relativity in a strong gravitational field.
The team captured an image of the supermassive black hole and its shadow at the centre of a galaxy known as M87. This is the first direct visual evidence that black holes exist, the researchers said. In the image, a central dark region is encapsulated by a ring of light that looks brighter on one side.
The massive galaxy, called Messier 87 or M87, is near the Virgo galaxy cluster 55 million light-years from Earth. The supermassive black hole has a mass that is 6.5 billion times that of our sun.
"I was in total disbelief. We had developed and tested our algorithms for years on data we thought would mimic that of the Event Horizon Telescope, but still there are always surprises in data. Pressing Go on a computer program I had written and immediately seeing a ring come into focus for the first time was amazing and exhilarating. We had prepared for years, but even so it was too easy! It was an unforgettable moment."