A window on the plasma universe: the very large array
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For nearly two decades, the aperature synthesis telescope known as the Very Large Array (VLA) has been providing a wealth of data on all types of astronomical objects. This telescope fills the need for more powerful and more sensitive instruments to gather data on a vast range of plasma phenomena in astrophysical settings. Currently the VLA is capable of observing at eight radio frequency bands (four corresponding to important spectral lines) with sensitivities on the order of 10−29Wm−2Hz−1, or 10−3 Jansky (1 mJy), and noise levels ten times lower. This paper describes the VLA and its capabilities, and describes how researchers interested in plasma astrophysics can use the instrument.
Key wordsInstrumentation Radio Astronomy Plasma Astrophysics
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