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20 Interesting Antennae Galaxies Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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When we say Antennae Galaxies facts, what comes to your mind? You making of them as some kind of galaxies with insect-like antennae. You know what? You are partially correct. These galaxies actually do have insect-like antennae. Antennae galaxies refer to a pair of spiral galaxies actually. These two galaxies are colliding at this very moment and have attained a weird shape.

Let us learn 20 interesting Antennae Galaxies fact and figure out what makes them so important and interesting. You ready? Hopefully you are.

Interesting Antennae Galaxies Facts: 1-5

1. Antennae Galaxies refer to a pair of spiral galaxies which are named as NGC 4038 and NGC 4039. The NGC 4038 was barred spiral galaxy while NGC 4039 was spiral galaxy. The later was bigger.

2. These two galaxies are colliding with each other as we are writing this article now. The merger or the collision actually started a few hundred million light years ago. Some estimates say that the merger started some 100 to 300 million years ago.

3. When the merger between the two galaxies gets completed, they will possibly give rise to a Giant Elliptical galaxy.

4. As far as the categorization of these galaxies is concerned, they are no longer spiral galaxies. Together they form what is known as Interacting Spirals. So yes, they do have a category.

5. The Antennae Galaxies sit in the Virgo Cluster and the estimated distance from the Earth is 45 million light years. Previously the distance was thought to be 65 million light years.

Interesting Antennae Galaxies Facts: 6-10

6. This distance makes the Antennae Galaxies the nearest Interacting Spirals to Earth.

7. These Antennae Galaxies have a massive diameter which extend to hundreds of thousands of light years.

8. Once the merger between the two galaxies – NGC 4038 and NGC 4039 is completed, the central black holes of the two galaxies will also merge together and form a supermassive black hole.

Antennae galaxies facts

9. In the image that you see above, you will notice two orange blobs. These two orange blobs are basically the two cores of the two galaxies.

10. The two cores are made up of many old stars. These stars are crisscrossed by dust filaments. These dust filaments are shown in brown in the image.

Interesting Antennae Galaxies Facts: 11-15

11. The star birth regions are shown in brilliant blue. The pink color that surrounds the blue star-forming regions are hydrogen gas that is glowing.

12. The name Antennae Galaxies comes from the fact that the Interacting Galaxies have two arms – very long and antennae-like. The arms extend far out from the two nuclei. These arms can be best observed using telescopes that are ground-based.

13. These antennae or tidal arms of the Antennae Galaxies were formed when they first collided some 200-300 million years ago.

14. One of the most interesting Antennae Galaxies facts is that today the shape of the Antennae Galaxies gives preview of what may happen when Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies collide with each other. This might happen some billions of years from now.

15. As of today, the unusual shape of the Antennae Galaxies is because of all the distortions that were caused by the collision that took place in distant past.

Interesting Antennae Galaxies Facts: 16-20

16. Yet another interesting of Antennae Galaxies facts is that so far scientists have observed 5 young stars that ended up as supernovae. These stars are SN1974E, SN2007sr, SN2013dk, SN1921A and SN2004GT.

17. The Chandra X-Ray Observatory observed silicon, magnesium and neon in vast amounts in the Antennae Galaxies. Interestingly, these elements are necessary for a planet like Earth.

18. One of the most fascinating of Antennae Galaxies facts is that just 10% of all stars that will be formed will live past 10 million years.

19. The reason for this is that most of the stars that are being/will be formed will be blue supergiants. These are types of stars which consume their fuel very quickly and end up in supernova explosion. This explains why 5 such explosions have been observed so far.

20. The remaining massive clusters of young stars that will remain back will end up as the globular clusters of the new galaxy that will be formed.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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