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Scientist who helped make first black hole image: 'No one person did this'

A 29-year-old scientist unexpectedly became the face of the black hole project.

As the world got a glimpse this week at the first images of a black hole, another photo started being widely shared online and became synonymous with the project. 

It was a picture of 29-year-old scientist Dr. Katie Bouman, watching in disbelief as that first image she helped make possible was reconstructed. 

Dr. Bouman essentially became the face of the project as politicians and celebrities widely shared her photo

On her Facebook page alone, the picture racked up more than 45,000 shares in just two days. 

And while many have credited her solely as being the first to photograph a black hole, Dr. Bouman is quick to point out that no one person or algorithm made the image a reality.

"It required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work to develop the instrument, data processing, imaging methods, and analysis techniques that were necessary to pull off this seemingly impossible feat," she wrote. 

In total, more than 200 scientists were involved in the project, including 40 women. 

Dr. Bouman told the New York Times in a text message on Thursday night that she's so glad everyone is as excited as their team and that people are finding their story inspirational. “However, the spotlight should be on the team and no individual person. Focusing on one person like this helps no one, including me,” Bouman wrote, according to the New York Times.  

With this viral fame, she's also become the subject of attacks from internet trolls. 

The Washington Post reported that memes quickly went viral online claiming that one of Dr. Bouman's colleagues, Andrew Chael, was actually responsible for "850,000 of the 900,000 lines of code" used in the image algorithm. 

But Chael noted in his own viral Twitter thread that those claims, including the basic fact about how many lines of code there were in the software, are completely wrong. 

"So while I appreciate the congratulations on a result that I worked hard on for years, if you are congratulating me because you have a sexist vendetta against Katie, please go away and reconsider your priorities in life," Chael tweeted.  

After the black hole image was first revealed, Dr. Bouman told PBS Newshour that she didn't expect all of this attention. 

"I brought the computer science mindset, but the project brought in people from so many different areas. That’s what made it possible, no one person did this," she explained to PBS. 

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