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Physics & Astronomy Department

Astr110 Photography Projects, Spring 2005

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THE ANTENNAE, Kristi Thompson

Antennae

The Antannae Galaxy are actually two galaxies that are colliding in the Corvus constelation. Long ago, Galaxy NGC4039 was doing just fine when Galaxy NG4038 collided into it. The result of this collision is what we see in the picture above. Scientists think that the collision of The Antennae galaxies may be a foreshadowing of a collision between our Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy looming in the future - about 3 billion years from now! Scientists also believe that the elements in the supernovas that are formed could be the ultimate building blocks for habitable planets. The Antennae give us a close-up view of the type of collisions that may have been common in the early universe, leading to the formation of most of the stars.

The intense lights you see within the dust clouds are bright knots of star clusters that are imbedded in ionized hydrogen. Interestingly, when the galaxies collide, it is rare for stars to actually collide because galaxies are mostly empty space. But as the galaxies merge, the combined gravity of each galaxy pulls the other apart. As this happens, huge gas clouds collide, and new bright stars and dark dust are scattered. There are blue knots of stars that appear to be newly formed globular. Other star knots are red in color. These might be globular clusters that haven't expelled early dust from their system yet. The Antennae Galaxy is about 60 million light years away. The angular size of the galaxy is 2 minutes. The linear size is 34,904 light years.

References:
http://chandra.harvard.due.press/04_release/press_010704.html

http://antwerp.gsfc.nasa.bov/apol/ap971027.html

http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/galaxy_collisions/lead/starbirth.html?2932005

 

Right Ascension (J2000) 12:01 52.80
Declination (J2000) -18.51 54.0
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 300 seconds in BVR
Date observed

March 9, 2005 (BVR)
April 1, 2005 (C)