News Release Archive:

News Release 796 of 1051

October 21, 1997 01:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1997-34

Hubble Reveals Stellar Fireworks Accompanying Galaxy Collisions


Image: Stellar Fireworks Accompany Antennae Galaxy Collision

Stellar Fireworks Accompany Antennae Galaxy CollisionSTScI-PRC1997-34a

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This Hubble Space Telescope image provides a detailed look at a brilliant "fireworks show" at the center of a collision between two galaxies. Hubble has uncovered over 1,000 bright, young star clusters bursting to life as a result of the head-on wreck.

A ground-based telescopic view of the Antennae galaxies (known formally as NGC 4038/4039) - so named because a pair of long tails of luminous matter, formed by the gravitational tidal forces of their encounter, resembles an insect's antennae. The galaxies are located 63 million light-years away in the southern constellation Corvus.

The respective cores of the twin galaxies are the orange blobs, left and right of image center, crisscrossed by filaments of dark dust. A wide band of chaotic dust, called the overlap region, stretches between the cores of the two galaxies. The sweeping spiral- like patterns, traced by bright blue star clusters, shows the result of a firestorm of star birth activity which was triggered by the collision.

This natural-color image is a composite of four separately filtered images taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), on January 20, 1996. Resolution is 15 light-years per pixel (picture element).

Object Names: NGC 4038/4039, Antennae

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: Brad Whitmore (STScI) and NASA


The above montage includes these images:

NGC 4038/4039, Antennae Image Type: Astronomical NGC 4038/4039, Antennae Fireworks Show in Collision of Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038/4039) Image Type: Astronomical Fireworks Show in Collision of Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038/4039)

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