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Black Hole Photo Released

April 10, 2019

Not a fuzzy hot doughnut, but a glowing accretion disc around a black hole.
The image of a black hole captured by the Event Horizon Telescope.

The photo released today was of the enormous black hole at the center of galaxy Messier 87, 55 million light years from earth and 7 billion times more massive than our sun, which we mentioned in our blog yesterday.

The Guardian has a nice write-up on the black hole, photo and release of the photo here. It contains some worthwhile explanatory graphics (although the YouTube film we mentioned yesterday is more detailed and complete). It also mentions the young woman who made this possible – Computing and Mathematical Scientist Dr. Katie Bouman, now at CalTech, but still a Masters Degree student at MIT when she came up with the key algorithm that could crunch all the data from all the radio telescopes involved in order to produce this single picture.

And it was a lot of data. So much data that the half-ton of hard drives needed to hold it had to be physically shipped to MIT. An extra six months had to pass for the data from the south pole to arrive, as there are no flights in or out during the Antarctic winter.

This article has more on Bouman, hero of science, and this article has more on her algorithm.  [Chuck Almdale]

Katie Bouman


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