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N.M. radio telescope, now upgraded, seeking new name

MAGDALENA, N.M. -- One of the world's most famous radio telescopes is seeking a new name.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory announced this week it's accepting ideas for a new name from the public and fellow scientists for the Very Large Array of New Mexico.

The Very Large Array is featured in films including "Contact," "Armageddon" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

The search for a new handle comes after the radio telescope has undergone an expansion after more than a decade of upgrades. Officials said the Very Large Array's original, 1970s electronics have been replaced with state-of-the-art equipment, and a new name should reflect its new capabilities.

Radio telescopes are used to study naturally occurring radio emission from stars, galaxies, quasars and other astronomical objects.

Fred K.Y. Lo, director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, said improvements have increased the Very Large Array's technical capabilities by factors of as much as 8,000.