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Very Large Array Radio Telescopes
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© Christine Till
Because radio waves are so large - about 100,000 times longer than visible light waves - astronomers need colossal telescopes to collect them. Building a single telescope large enough is impossible, so radio astronomers build arrays. Arrays are huge series of telescopes that work together as one telescope.
The Very Large Array, or VLA, is such a telescope. It is one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories, and consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. The VLA is a very unique place to visit. As you approach the valley, cellular service becomes non-existent. The isolated desert location - specifically chosen to minimize radio frequency interference - is perfect for reflecting on the mysteries of the universe.
The Very Large Array, or V.L.A., is the most powerful radio telescope in the world. The resolution of the VLA is altered by changing the positions of the dishes. The VLA's maximum angular resolution is better than a tenth of an arc second, comparable to that of the Hubble Space Telescope at optical wavelengths.
August 7th, 2014
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