You’ve probably seen the photo of Dr. Katie Bouman already: the woman that is sitting at her computer with her hands over her mouth, having realized that she just created the first image of a black hole ever.
Dr. Bouman is a 29-year-old computer scientist, and she wrote in the caption to her Facebook post that she was watching in disbelief as the first image she ever made of a black hole was in the process of being reconstructed.
She led the development of a computer algorithm that made taking the game-changing image possible, and it shows a ring of gas and dust around the shadow of a mass at the center of the M87 galaxy.
Her photo gained extreme popularity overnight, and everyone heaped on the deserved praise on the accomplishments of this young woman, including many celebrities and politicians.
This is what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted:
Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris also supported Dr. Bouman:
First daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump also showed her support:
Dr. Bouman began creating the algorithm three years ago while she was still a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and she led the project with the help of a team of scientists from MIT’s Computer Science and AI Laboratory, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the MIT Haystack Observatory.
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) took the image of the black hole, which is a network of eight linked telescopes, and it was rendered by Dr. Bouman’s algorithm.
Dr. Bouman said on her Instagram that this is the beginning of being able to have another window into black holes that can tell us about our laws and physics. She added that they’ve learned so much already, for example, they didn’t know that they were going to get that ring of light. Just being able to see that the ring exists is huge.
She is currently a post-doctoral fellow at MIT, and will soon become an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at the California Institute of Technology.
When speaking with TIME about what her advice for the next generation of women in STEM would be, she said that as long as you’re excited and motivated to work on it, you should never feel like you can’t do it!