Tuning in to The Antennae Galaxies - New Image! - VIP Newsletter 27 May 2023
A new image of The Antennae Galaxies from The Cosmic Companion!
The Antennae Galaxies (or NGC 4038 and 4039 if you want to be all formal about it), are a pair of merging galaxies, roughly 43 million light years from Earth. This process will give birth to billions of new stars and planetary systems.
Ancient stars near the centers of these two galaxies is seen in gold, surrounded by brown dust (seen best toward the right). Bright blue star-forming regions excite hydrogen gas, making it glow pink (shining brightly toward the left side of the pair).
A pair of arms arcing away from both sides of this galactic duo, which give this pair its name, were first formed 100 to 300 million years ago, as the pair first approached each other. This pair of galaxies may give us a glimpse of our own future, as The Milky Way and Andromeda merge into a massive super galaxy in a few billion years.
Estimates of the distance to these galaxies has significantly lowered over the last decade or so. But, if the latest measurements of around 43 million light years is correct, then light seen in this image has traveled through space since Old World and New World primates here on Earth diverged into separate populations, and developed color vision. This was also the time they evolved opposable thumbs, as well as the ability to recognize deception. The cup and ball trick probably followed soon thereafter.
This new composite image from The Cosmic Companion was composed from 54 red, green, blue, and luminance exposures (each 10 minutes long) recorded over several nights from March to July 2021, using the CCD camera on the 0.6-metre CHI-1 Telescope, available from Telescope Live (now with an awesome new CMOS camera!).
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