Antennae Galaxies - Hubble Telescope shot - Framed Picture - 20"H x 16"W
A 20"H x 16"W" framed picture of Antennae Galaxies - Hubble Telescope shot
The Antennae Galaxies, also known as NGC 4038/NGC 4039, are a pair of interacting galaxies in the constellation Corvus. They are currently going through a starburst phase, in which the collision of clouds of gas and dust, with entangled magnetic fields, causes rapid star formation. They were discovered by William Herschel in 1785.
The Antennae Galaxies are undergoing a galactic collision. Located in the NGC 4038 group with five other galaxies, these two galaxies are known as the Antennae Galaxies because the two long tails of stars, gas and dust ejected from the galaxies as a result of the collision resemble an insect's antennae. The nuclei of the two galaxies are joining to become one giant galaxy. Most galaxies probably undergo at least one significant collision in their lifetimes. This is likely the future of our Milky Way when it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy.
About 1.2 billion years ago, the Antennae were two separate galaxies. NGC 4038 was a barred spiral galaxy and NGC 4039 was a spiral galaxy.
Within 400 million years, the Antennae's nuclei will collide and become a single core with stars, gas, and dust around it. Observations and simulations of colliding galaxies suggest that the Antennae Galaxies will eventually form an elliptical galaxy.