ALMA view of the antennae galaxies

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 an image of the galaxies made by ALMA, in two different wavelength ranges, during the observatory's early testing phase. 

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. This is nevertheless the best submillimetre-wavelength image ever taken of the Antennae Galaxies and opens a new window on the submillimetre Universe.

ALMA’s view shows us something that cannot be seen at visible or infrared wavelengths: the clouds of dense cold gas from which new stars form. The ALMA observations 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

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 the Sun — a rich reservoir of material for future generations of stars. Observations like these will be vital in helping us understand how galaxy collisions 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.



À propos de l'image

Date de publication:3 octobre 2011 11:30
Communiqués de presse en rapport:eso1137
Annonces en rapport:ann21013
Taille:3375 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

Image Formats

Grand JPEG
445,1 Kio


Fonds d'écran

81,2 Kio
108,0 Kio
141,8 Kio
168,1 Kio
198,2 Kio


Position (RA):12 1 52.99
Position (Dec):-18° 52' 36.10"
Field of view:2.93 x 2.92 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 29.9° right of vertical

Couleurs & filtres

DomaineLongueur d'ondeTélescope
ALMA band 3
2.6 mmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
ALMA band 7
870 μmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
ALMA Band 7
870 μmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
ALMA Band 7
870 μmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
ALMA Band 3
2.6 mmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array