Portal:Astronomy/Picture/Week 28 2008

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Antennae galaxies xl.jpg

This new NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038 & 4039) is the sharpest yet of this merging galaxy pair. During the collision's duration, billions of stars will form. The brightest and most compact star birth regions are called super star clusters.

The two spiral galaxies started to interact a few hundred million years ago, making the Antennae galaxies one of the nearest and youngest examples of a pair of colliding galaxies. Nearly half the faint objects in the Antennae image are young clusters containing tens of thousands of stars. The orange blobs to the left and right of image center are the original galaxies two cores which consist mainly of old stars criss-crossed by filaments of dust, which appear brown in the image. The two galaxies are dotted with brilliant blue star-forming regions surrounded by glowing hydrogen gas, appearing pink in the image.