Map of black holes

See the “stars” in the picture above. Well, those aren’t stars. They’re supermassive black holes.

Black holes don’t generate much radiation and thus, are difficult for astronomers to spot. However, as they devour everything around it, materials spiral into the black hole like water spinning around a drain. This action generates radio waves which scientist can use to detect the presence of a black hole.

The detailed map of black holes was created by astronomers using the low radio frequency signatures detected by the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) in Europe. The LOFAR array consists of about 20,000 radio antennas distributed across 52 different locations in Europe.

Scientists wrote a special program that uses the LOFAR radio telescope data to map out the black holes we see in the picture above. And each black hole in the photo is devouring material at the heart of a galaxy far, far away. Makes you feel kind of puny, doesn’t it…