RTL Today – Major discoveries coming: Seeing Milky Way’s new black hole is ‘only the beginning’: US researcher

At just 33 years old, Caltech assistant professor Katie Bouman is already a veteran of two major scientific discoveries.

The expert in computational imaging – developing algorithms to observe distant phenomena – helped create the program that released the first image of a black hole in a distant galaxy in 2019.

She quickly became something of a global science superstar, and was invited to testify before Congress about her work.

Now, she has played a key role in the creation of the supermassive black hole at the heart of our own Milky Way galaxy – a cosmic body known as Sagittarius A *.

Her working group within the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which revealed the stunning image Thursday, was tasked with piecing it together from the mass of data garnered by telescopes around the world.

Bouman spoke with AFP shortly after the breakthrough announcement.

– How does this discovery compare to 2019? –

“The first one was just as exciting as it was the first one, and just being able to see a black hole for the first time was spectacular.” .

“The reason why is because we have a lot more information about what we expect Sgr A * to look like. expected from prior observations and theory.

“So I think that even though it’s the second image we’re showing, it’s actually a lot more exciting because we can use this to do more tests on our understanding of gravity.”

– Why was it harder to see Sagittarius A *? –

“We collected the data for both M87 * and Sgr A * in the same week in 2017, but it took us so much longer to make a picture of Sgr A * than M87 *.

“Sgr A * has a lot of other things that are going to make it a lot more challenging for us to make an image. We’re actually observing the black hole through the plane of the galaxy. And that means the gas in the galaxy actually scatters the image. It makes us look like the black hole through, like, a frosted window, like in a shower.

“But the gas in M87 * and Sgr A * is moving at roughly the same speed. full orbit around M87 *, for Sgr A *, it’s evolving from minute to minute. “

– Why are black holes so interesting? –

“It just breaks with what we’re used to on Earth, right? Light can’t even escape from it, and it’s bending, it’s warping space-time around it. It’s just this mysterious thing and I think it just captures the imagination.

“What’s cooler than working on black holes – they’re so mysterious, right? And the fact that we’re able to make an image of one, something that should be unseeable … I think that’s just really exciting.”

– What do you foresee in the future? A movie? –

“I think this is really only the beginning. And now we know that we have these extreme laboratories of gravity, we can get back our instruments and improve our algorithms in order to see more and to extract more science.

“We made our first attempts at making a movie and we made a lot of progress, but we’re not there yet – where do we feel confident that we do, minute.

“So now we’re going to go back, try to add more telescopes around the world, try to collect more data, so that we can actually show something that we feel really sure about.”

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