Antennae galaxies

Interacting galaxies in the constellation Corvus

The Antennae galaxies (NGC 4038/NGC 4039) are two colliding galaxies.[3] They are in the constellation Corvus. The process takes hundreds of millions of years, maybe even a billion years.

Antennae galaxies
Antennae Galaxies reloaded.jpg
NGC 4038 (left) and NGC 4039 (right)
Observation data (J2000 epoch)
Right ascension 12h 01m 53.0s /  12h 01m 53.6s[2]
Declination−18° 52′ 10″ / −18° 53′ 11″[2]
Redshift1642 ± 12 / 1641 ± 9 km/s[2]
Distance45 Mly / 65 Mly
Apparent magnitude (V)11.2 / 11.1[2]
TypeSB(s)m pec / SA(s)m pec[2]
Apparent size (V)5′.2 × 3′.1 / 3′.1 × 1′.6[2]
Notable featuresInteracting galaxies
Other designations
Ringtail Galaxy,[2] NGC 4038 / 4039,[2]
PGC 37967 / 37969, Arp 244,[2] Caldwell 60/61
See also: Galaxy, List of galaxies

The collision, with its clouds of gas, dust and magnetic fields, causes extremely rapid star formation. This is their starburst phase, and might last a few hundred million years. They were discovered by William Herschel in 1785.[4]

They are in the NGC 4038 group with five other galaxies. Before The Collision, NGC 4038 was a barred spiral galaxy and NGC 4039 was a spiral galaxy. These two galaxies are known as the Antennae galaxies because they have two long tails of stars, gas and dust ejected from the galaxies as a result of tidal force in the collision that look like an insect’s antennae. The nuclei of the two galaxies are joining to become one giant galaxy, sometime in the future to form an Elliptical galaxy.

Ground-based telescopic view of the Antennae galaxies

These interacting galaxies are nearer and less remote to the Milky Way than previously thought—at 45 million light-years instead of 65 million light-years.[5]


  1. R.W. Sinnott, ed. (1988). The complete new general catalogue and index catalogue of nebulae and star clusters by J.L.E. Dreyer. Sky Publishing and Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-933346-51-4.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 "NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database". Results for NGC 4038 / 4039. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
  3. Collision between galaxies means they move through each other.
  4. "Corvus". Universe Today. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
  5. "The Antennae galaxies found to be closer to us". Space Daily. 2008-05-12. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-30.