NGC 4038 & NGC 4039: The Antennae Galaxies

NGC 4038 & NGC 4039, the Antennae Galaxies (also known as Caldwell 60 & 61 and Arp 244) are two large galaxies in the southern constellation of Corvus that are colliding.

These galaxies are known as Antennae Galaxies because the two long tails of stars, gas and dust that they eject as a result of their collision resemble the antennae of an insectIn the image, NGC 4038 is on the top and NGC 4039 on the bottom.

The nuclei of the two galaxies join to become a giant galaxy. For two galaxies to collide is not a rare occurrence in the universe: it is estimated that most galaxies are likely to experience at least one major collision in their lifetime (By the way, this is probably the future of our Milky Way galaxy when it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy... 4.5 billion years from now).

This is not an easy target for the latitude of my observatory in Àger as it rises only 29º above the horizon. 

This is an LRGB image with data taken simultaneously with TOA-150 for the Luminance and FSQ-106 for the RGB data. Total accumulated exposure time is 28 hours.

The first image has a specific processing (with drizzle x2, 0.845"/pixel) to try to show the maximum detail in the nuclei of the galaxies.

The second image has a more conventional processing (thus at 1.69"/pixel) as a wide-field image, to fully show the “antennas” of the galaxies. 

Click on the images for a full resolution version, or go to the Gallery section for complete exposure details.

Image processing: Pixinsight.

Observatory automation and remote operation with Talon6.

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