At just 33 years old, Caltech assistant Katie Booman is already a veteran of two major scientific discoveries.
The expert in computational imaging – developing algorithms for observing distant phenomena – helped create the program that led to the release of the first image of a black hole in distant galaxy in 2019
She quickly became something of a world science superstar and was invited to testify before Congress about her work.
Now she has again played a key role in creating a an innovative image of the supermassive black hole at the heart of our own Milky Way galaxy– A cosmic body known as Sagittarius A *.
Her working group at the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which unveiled the stunning image on Thursday, was tasked with gathering it from the mass of data collected by telescopes around the world.
Bowman spoke to AFP shortly after the breakthrough announcement.
– What is this discovery compared to 2019?
“The first one was so exciting because it was the first one, and just being able to see a black hole for the first time was spectacular. But I think the holy grail of the Event Horizon Telescope has always been to portray Sagittarius A *.
“The reason is because we have a lot more information than other observations on what we expected Sgr A * to look like. So, being able to see an image of this makes it much easier for us to see how it matches what we expect from previous observations and theory.
“So I think even though it’s the second image we’re showing, it’s actually a lot more exciting for the reason that we can actually use it to do more tests on our understanding of gravity.”
-Why was it harder to see Sagittarius A *? –
“We collected data on the M87 * and Sgr A * in the same week of 2017, but it took us much longer to take a picture of the Sgr A * than the M87 *.
“Sgr A * there are many other things that are happening that make us much more challenging to make an image. We are actually observing a black hole across the plane of the galaxy. And that means that the gas in the galaxy is actually scattering the image. This makes it look as if we are looking at a black hole through, like a matte window, like under a shower. This is a challenge.
“But I would say that the biggest challenge we are facing is the fact that the black hole is developing very fast. The gas in M87 * and Sgr A * moves at approximately the same speed. But given that it takes days to weeks to make a full orbit around M87 *, for Sgr A *, it is evolving from minute to minute. “
-Why are black holes so fascinating? –
“He’s just breaking what we’re used to here on Earth, isn’t he?” The light can’t even escape from it and it bends, distorting the space-time around it. It’s just this mysterious thing and I think it just captures the imagination.
“What’s cooler than working black holes“They’re so mysterious, aren’t they?” And the fact that we can make an image of one, something that has to be invisible … I think that’s really exciting. “
– What do you foresee in the future? A movie? –
“I think this is really just the beginning. And now that we know we have these extreme laboratories of gravity, we can go back and improve our tools and algorithms to see more and learn more.
“We’ve made our first attempts to make a film and we’ve made a lot of progress, but we’re still not there – where we feel confident enough to feel, that’s what Sgr A * looks like minute by minute.
“So now we’re going to go back, try to add more telescopes around the world, try to gather more data so we can actually show something we feel really confident about.”
© 2022 AFP
Quote: Seeing the new Black Hole on the Milky Way is “just the beginning”: American researcher (2022, May 12), retrieved on May 12, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-milky- black-hole.html
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