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The Very Large Array

THE VERY LARGE ARRAY


photographed by Brian Bezalel

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Socorro, New Mexico - The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) is a centimeter-wavelength radio astronomy observatorylocated in central New Mexico on the Plains of San Agustin, between the towns of Magdalena and Datil, ~50  miles (80 km) west of Socorro. The VLA comprises twenty-seven 25-meter radio telescopes deployed in a Y-shaped array and all the equipment, instrumentation, and computing power to function as an interferometer. Each of the massive telescopes is mounted on double parallel railroad tracks, so the radius and density of the array can be transformed to adjust the balance between its angular resolution and its surface brightness sensitivity. Astronomers using the VLA have made key observations of black holes and protoplanetary disks around young stars, discovered magnetic filaments and traced complex gas motions at the Milky Way's center, probed the Universe's cosmological parameters, and provided new knowledge about the physical mechanisms that produce radio emission.

The VLA stands at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m) above sea level. It is a component of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). The NRAO is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

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