The Very Large Array (VLA) is a radio astronomy observatory located in central New Mexico, USA. It is situated on the Plains of San Agustin, between the towns of Magdalena and Datil, and is one of the most famous and important radio telescopes in the world.
The VLA consists of 27 radio antennas, each of which is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter. The antennas are arranged in a Y-shaped configuration, with each arm of the Y measuring 21 kilometers (13 miles) in length. The antennas can be moved along rails to various positions on the arms, allowing the telescope to observe different areas of the sky.
The VLA is used to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena, including black holes, galaxies, quasars, pulsars, and the cosmic microwave background radiation. By observing the radio waves emitted by these objects, astronomers can learn about their structure, composition, and evolution.
The VLA operates at frequencies ranging from 1 to 50 GHz, and can produce images with resolutions as fine as 0.1 arcseconds (1/3600th of a degree). It is a highly sensitive instrument, capable of detecting very faint signals from distant objects.
The VLA is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It is open to astronomers from around the world, who can apply for observing time on the telescope. The VLA is also a popular destination for tourists, who can visit the site and learn about the telescope and its discoveries through guided tours and exhibits.
The construction of the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico began in 1973, and the observatory was officially dedicated in 1980. The VLA is a product of a collaboration between the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Over the years, the VLA has undergone several upgrades and improvements to enhance its sensitivity, resolution, and imaging capabilities.