NGC 4038-39, the tails of the Antennae
AAO image reference AAT 65a.    « Previous || Next »

NGC 4038-39, the interacting galaxies of the Antennae, antennae.jpg, ngc4038-39.jpg
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. The faint tails seen here were derived from a plate taken on the Kitt Peak 4m telescope, by Al Millikan in May, 1973. Millikan was from the Eastman Kodak Company, and he was testing the then-new IIIa-J photographic emulsion.

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.

Related Images
AAT 65        NGC 4038-39, the galaxies of "The Antennae"
AATCCD 3  NGC 4038-39, the galaxies of "The Antennae"
n4038_d     NGC 4038-39, deep image
Constellation of Corvus (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1