The Very Large Array or VLA is one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories. Located near Socorro, New Mexico, the VLA consists of 27 radio antennas each of which is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter. The group are arranged in a huge Y-shaped configuration with 9 dishes along each of the three axes. Since the antennas sit on railroad tracks, their distances between each other can be changed. This allows radio astronomers to use the VLA like a zoom lens. In their widest configuration, the telescopes extend over the full 21 kilometer (13 mile) length of each arm. This simulates a single antenna with a diameter of 36 kilometers (22 miles). Such a huge aperture yields the greatest magnification which permits detailed observations into the cores of galaxies. Three other configurations use progressively closer positioning of the dishes. In the tightest arrangement, each arm is just 0.6 kilometer (0.4 mile) long. This is equivalent to a single dish with a diameter of 1.0 kilometer (0.6 mile). The smaller configurations allow scientists to study progressively larger chunks of the sky.
Some of the important discoveries made by the VLA include: water on the planet Mercury, radio-coronae around ordinary stars, micro-quasars in the Milky Way, gravitationally-induced Einstein rings around distant galaxies, and radio counterparts to distant gamma-ray bursts.The VLA achieved popular notoriety in 1997 when it was feature in the movie Contact staring Jody Foster.To learn more about the VLA, see the National Radio Astronomy Observatory website.
The following gallery of photographs of the VLA were taken on two separate trips to this unique astronomical observatory. The photos are available both as high resolution files (300 dpi) for publication and as custom enlargements. Please contact MrEclipse for more information.
For more photos of the Very Large Array, please see VLA - Photo Gallery A.
Click on each image to see a larger photo.
All photographs, text and web pages are © Copyright 2007 by Fred Espenak, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. They may not be reproduced, published, copied or transmitted in any form, including electronically on the Internet or WWW, without written permission of the author. The photos have been digitally watermarked.
The photographs may be licensed for commercial, editorial, and educational use. Contact Espenak (at MrEclipse) for photo use in print, web, video, CD and all other media.
Last revised: 2008 Feb 10