AAO image reference AAT 65. « Previous || Next »
Top left is NE. Image width is about 5.5 arc min
Image and text © 1991-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.
NGC 4038 and 4039 are the well-known pair of interacting galaxies that show two broadly curved tails of stars, the 'antennae', extending a considerable distance from the action. This distinctive display is seen on a deeper deep image and gives the structure its popular name: it seems to have distracted attention from the interacting galaxies themselves.
It is possible that one of the two disc galaxies involved was a 'gas-less spiral' (S0), because the most southerly of the pair is distinctly yellow, while the outer parts its companion are bluer. The colour picture reveals the burst of star formation triggered by the encounter, the large numbers of pink emission nebulae in the inter-galaxy region and the location of the numerous dark, brownish-yellow clouds of dust. The yellow nuclei of the two galaxies are also still visible in the colour picture as separate entities. The galaxies are in Corvus at a distance of about 45 million light years.
n4038_d NGC 4038-39, deep image
AAT 65a NGC 4038-39, the tails of "The Antennae"
AATCCD 3 NGC 4038-39, the galaxies of "The Antennae"
For details of photographic exposure, search technical table by AAT reference number.
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