The Very Large Array (VLA) National Radio Telescope in New Mexico is looking for a new name. To help with the christening of one of the world's most famous radio telescopes, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory announced it is accepting ideas from the public and fellow scientists.
The new name may be required because the installation has been recently upgraded, and the original 1970s-era electronics systems have been replaced with state-of-the-art equipment. Due to the fact the new upgrades enable the telescope to be 10 time more sensitive to the faint radio hum from the cosmos, its new name, it is believed, should reflect its new capabilities.
The contest, conducted at namethearray.org, is open until Dec. 1, and the winner will be announced at the American Astronomical Society conference in January.
One of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories, the VLA consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin, fifty miles west of Socorro, N.M. Each antenna is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter.
The VLA has 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.