And Bouman, whose expertise is not in astrophysics but computer science, was one of a small group of people who spent years developing and testing those methods.
Her testing process used multiple algorithms with "different assumptions built into them" to recover a photo from the data.
The project's researchers obtained the data using radio telescopes in the USA states of Arizona and Hawaii as well as in Mexico, Chile, Spain and Antarctica.
Each telescope collected so much data of M87 it was impossible to send via the internet and had to be physically flown to a central data processing center. They were tasked with essentially hitting go on a supercomputer that would combine the data from each telescope and finally reveal the image the world was anxiously waiting to see.
"Just before the imaging, with the M-87 data, I was not so sure we can see a shadow, even before we have the data set, so it's really exciting", he said. "The ring came so easily". Bouman explains how we can take a picture of the ultimate dark using the Event Horizon Telescope.
That's what it was like for scientists trying to capture an image of a black hole in space.
"This photo, they say, proves Einstein's theory of relativity, and the meaning of life could be contained within that photo of a black hole", Kimmel continued.
While much of the matter around a black hole drops into its vortex, the new image captures the huge, circular shape of gas and dust whirling at the speed of light outside the point of no return.
Though black holes are compact objects, they are exceptionally massive - the mass of M87's black hole is about 6.5 billion times that of our sun, the National Science Foundation (NSF) said in a statement. Research techniques and algorithms will continue to be improved until, for example, the matter spinning around the edges of the black hole can be studied further.
"This is the strongest evidence we have to date of the existence of black holes", said Sheperd Doeleman, an astrophysicist with the Center for Astrophysics. Bouman has already worked on looking around corners by analyzing tiny shadows and determining the material properties of objects in videos by measuring tiny motions that are invisible to the naked eye. It's an unprecedented test of whether Einstein's ideas about the very nature of space and time hold up in extreme circumstances, and looks closer than ever before at the role of black holes in the universe. Which is what we have the privilege of doing now. No one algorithm or person made this image, it required the awesome 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.
Up next for Bouman is a new job. Now, Dr. Bouman is a post-doctoral fellow at MIT and Assistant Professor at Caltech, the California Institute Of Technology.