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NGC 4038 and 4039: Dance of the Galaxies

NGC 4038 and NGC 4039 are a strongly interacting pair that are merging dust and stars. The Hubble view of the nuclei of the two galaxies shows areas where star formation is occurring due to the exchange of mass between the galaxies. Further away, "tidal tails" from the collision are visible in a larger field of view. The "antennae" appearance of the ground-based image at right is indicative of how the galaxy pairgot its name. These “tidal tails” were formed during the initial encounter of the galaxies some 200 to 300 million years ago.
Image at Right: NOAO Ground-based Image of the Antennae Galaxies
Credit: Bob and Bill Twardy/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF

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In the below image from the 1997 WFPC2 release of the Antennae, the oversaturated ground-based image shows more detail in the tails. NASA, ESA, and B. Whitmore (STScI).

Visit the 1997 STScI release on the Antennae Galaxies