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Very Large Array, Magdalena

#116 of 1,002 in Things to do in New Mexico
Landmark · Tourist Spot
The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) is a centimeter-wavelength radio astronomy observatory located 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-eight 25-meter radio telescopes (27 of which are operational while one is always rotating through maintenance) 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 6,970 feet (2,120 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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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
304 reviews
  • Closed due to Covid-19, it was still nice to see it only from outside. Made me want to come back to see the whole thing, tour and all, when it is allowed to fully re-open. You can camp in the...  more »
  • Awesome site to see with all the huge radio telescopes scattered across the plain. When we were there due the visitor center was closed due to COVID but have been several years ago and you could...  more »
  • Interesting find in the middle of nowhere. Not much to see. A small and interesting museum. A few pics from the movie "Contact." You can walk around some of the site and see the telescopes.
  • Extremely interesting. Nobody was touring when I was there. Got to talk to some staff. Super technology and in a grand scale. If your interested in the cosmos, or technology, it's worth the side trip.

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