The Evolving Universe

Smithsonian Institution

The Antennae • NGC 4038/NGC 4039

NGC4038 image

Credit: NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/STScI

Observers: Pepi Fabbiano, Joe DePasquale, Giovanni Fazio, Brad Whitmore

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The Antennae Glaaxies are actually two colliding galaxies, among the youngest pairs astronomers have observed. The two spiral galaxies started to interact a few hundred million years ago. This collision sparked star formation (bright blue and pink) in both galaxies. The bright yellow areas to the left and right of the imnage center are the cores of the original galaxies. The Antennae system may be a preview of how our Milky Way Galaxy and the neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy could collide in several billion years.

  • Distance from Earth: 43 million light years
  • Size: 61,000 light years
  • Telescope: Chandra/Hubble/Spitzer
  • Light: X-ray (blue), radio (red), visible (yellow)