Antennae galaxies, side-by-side comparison of ALMA and VLT observations

The Antennae Galaxies (also known as NGC 4038 and 4039) are a pair of distorted colliding spiral galaxies about 70 million light-years away, in the constellation of Corvus (The Crow). This view shows a comparison of the millimetre and submillimetre light observations (left), made in two different wavelength ranges by ALMA during the observatory's early testing phase, with visible-light observations from the ESO Very Large Telescope. 

Most of the ALMA test observations used to create this image were made using only twelve antennas working together — far fewer than will be used for the first science observations — and much closer together as well. Both of these factors make the new image just a taster of what is to come. As the observatory grows, the sharpness, speed, and quality of its observations will increase dramatically as more antennas become available and the array grows in size. Even so, this is the best submillimetre-wavelength image ever taken of the Antennae Galaxies and opens a new window on the submillimetre Universe.

While visible light reveals the newborn stars in the galaxies, ALMA’s view shows us something that cannot be seen at those wavelengths: the clouds of dense cold gas from which new stars form. The ALMA observations — shown here in red, pink and yellow — were made at specific wavelengths of millimetre and submillimetre light (ALMA bands 3 and 7), tuned to detect carbon monoxide molecules in the otherwise invisible hydrogen clouds, where new stars are forming.

Massive concentrations of gas are found not only in the hearts of the two galaxies, but also in the chaotic region where they are colliding. Here, the total amount of gas is billions of times the mass of our Sun — a rich reservoir of material for future generations of stars. Observations like these will be vital in helping us understand how the collision of galaxies can trigger the birth of new stars. This is just one example of how ALMA reveals parts of the Universe that cannot be seen with visible-light and infrared telescopes.

The ESO VLT image was produced using observational data found by Alberto Milani, who posted his image in the Your ESO Pictures Flickr group.

Crédit:

ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO). Visible light image: ESO/Alberto Milani.

À propos de l'image

Identification:eso1137d
Type:Observation
Date de publication:3 octobre 2011 11:30
Communiqués de presse en rapport:eso1137
Taille:6742 x 3362 px

À propos de l'objet

Nom:Antennae Galaxies, NGC 4038, NGC 4039
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Interacting
Distance:75 million années lumière
Catégorie:Galaxies

Formats des images

Grand JPEG
3,5 Mio

Zoomable


Fonds d'écran

1024x768
161,2 Kio
1280x1024
270,8 Kio
1600x1200
402,1 Kio
1920x1200
467,1 Kio
2048x1536
661,8 Kio

Couleurs & filtres

DomaineLongueur d'ondeTélescope
Millimétrique
ALMA Band 3
2.6 mmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
Visible
B
435 nmVery Large Telescope
FORS1
Millimétrique
ALMA band 7
870 μmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
Visible
V
550 nmVery Large Telescope
FORS1
Millimétrique
ALMA band 7
870 μmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
Millimétrique
ALMA band 7
870 μmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
Millimétrique
ALMA band 3
2.6 mmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
Infrarouge
I
814 nmVery Large Telescope
FORS1
Visible
H-alpha + Nii
658 nmVery Large Telescope
FORS1

 

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