29-year-old Hoosier created algorithm to capture first-ever black hole image


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR/AP) — Scientists on Wednesday revealed the first image ever made of a black hole, depicting a fiery orange and black ring of gravity-twisted light swirling around the edge of the abyss.

A 29-year-old Hoosier is the computer scientist behind that first image.

Katie Bouman is a West Lafayette native who graduated from West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School in 2007.

"This is just like kind of the beginning of being able to have another window to what black holes can tell us about our laws and physics," Katie Bouman said. "Already, we've learned so much."

Three years ago, Bouman led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole. The rest of the world got to see that image for the first time April 10.

Yeah, I know It’s mind-blowing. I couldn’t believe it,” said Dr. Charles Bouman, Katie's father. “It’s been really exciting for us. Almost surreal.”

Katie’s father is an electrical engineering professor at Purdue University.

“Katie has always been just so committed and passionate about research, from when she was a small kid,” said Dr. Bouman.

The black hole depicted is about 6 billion times the mass of our sun and is in a galaxy called M87 that is about 53 million light years from Earth. One light year is 5.9 trillion miles.