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National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Charlottesville, Virginia

ALMA antennas with mountains in the background

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory enables cutting-edge research focused on solving the mysteries of the invisible universe and furthers scientific research on an international scale for the entire scientific community.

AUI is proud to have played a fundamental role in establishing the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) over 60 years ago, working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and responding to the expressed needs of the U.S. research community. Ever since, we have successfully managed NRAO for NSF, maintaining NRAO as the world’s leading radio astronomy observatory. Radio astronomy has profoundly broadened our understanding of our universe, enabling new discoveries, opening new celestial windows and revealing an otherwise invisible universe.

Founded in 1956, the NRAO provides state-of-the-art radio telescope facilities for use by the international scientific community. NRAO telescopes are open to all astronomers regardless of institutional or national affiliation. Observing time on NRAO telescopes is available on a competitive basis to qualified scientists after evaluation of research proposals on the basis of scientific merit, the capability of the instruments to do the work, and the availability of the telescope during the requested time. NRAO also provides both formal and informal programs in education and public outreach for teachers, students, the general public and the media.

Astronomical observations at radio wavelengths allow scientists to address fundamental questions about our Universe such as:

  • When and how did galaxies form in the early Universe?
  • How do supermassive black holes form at the hearts of most galaxies?
  • How are stars and planets born?

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