Saturday, February 19, 2011: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
146C (Washington Convention Center )Very long baseline interferometry uses multiple radio antennas separated by large geographical distances to deliver the highest possible resolution imaging and astrometric precision for the scientific study of the Universe. Because radio emission is little affected by the intervening dust and gas that often obscures the optical and infrared radiation emitted by astronomical objects, radio telescopes can probe deep into regions that are otherwise inaccessible, such as the molecular clouds where stars and planets form and the center of the galaxy. The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory consists of 10 identical, 25-meter-diameter antennas that operate at centimeter and millimeter wavelengths on transcontinental baselines of up to 8,000 km and provides the science community the highest resolution and astrometric precision of any astronomical telescope. Invigorated by state-of-the-art technologies that have markedly improved its sensitivity and flexibility, the VLBA is enabling a wide range of transformative science: mapping the structure and dynamics of the entire Milky Way, searching for planets around low-mass stars, accurately measuring the masses of the supermassive black holes located at the centers of many galaxies, precisely determining the expansion rate of the Universe, and more.
Mark T. Adams, National Radio Astronomy Observatory