The Details
Object
The Antennae - NGC 4038/4039 in Corvus
Optics
Astro-Physics 160 EDF Refractor at f/7.5
Platform
Astro-Physics 1200 GTO
Camera
SBIG ST-10XME
Filters
Tru-Balance LRGB filter set
Date
30 April 2006
Location
Anza Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County CA
Exposure
L 6 x 600 sec 1x1 bin; RGB 4 x 300 sec, 2x2 bin
Software
Maxim DL/CCD, Registar, Photoshop CS, Neat Image 4.4 Pro+
Orientation
Field of View: 32'13" x 23'27" centered on RA12h01m54s
DEC -18°54’15” (2000.0) . North angle 174.1 °; east 90° CCW from north
Notes

The Antennae as it’s most commonly known is a cosmic train wreck of epic proportions, the nearest example to us of a collision between large galaxies. The two components of this merger, NGC 4038 and 4039 were spiral and barred spiral galaxies respectively back about 1 billion years ago. They collided about 600 million years ago, sending massive clouds of hydrogen gas from each galaxy slamming headlong into the contents of the other. By 200 million years ago vast quantities of stars and gas were ejected from the collision and formed the recognizable tails or “antennae” we see today. Lying about 65 million light years from Earth and spanning over 350,000 light years from tip to tip, the chaos near the center of these interacting galaxies is seen as the bright blue areas of large, young star clusters bursting to life in an inferno of ionized hydrogen gas. The Antennae was discovered by William Herschel on February 7, 1785 and described by him as being a planetary nebulae. It was not until 1923 that astronomer John Charles Duncan (1882-1967), using the 100” Mount Wilson reflector, discerned the faint tidal tails of the Antennae with the following description: “Most remarkable of all, two faint extensions, like antennae, seem to cross at the eastern end of the bag, one reaching northward and the other southward, and both concave toward the west.”

 

 

 

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