2013 May 07 – “The Antennae” NGC 4038 and NGC 4039


As seen through a 16-inch telescope

As seen through a 16-inch telescope

Named for the two filamentary extensions uncurling from their nuclei, The Antennae (NGCs 4038 and 4039, also known as The Ringtail) are a pair of interacting galaxies in the constellation Corvus that began a collision course a few hundred million years ago. They will eventually combine to form a single elliptical galaxy, shedding light on what may occur when our own galaxy encounters the Andromeda four billion years from now.

NGC 4038, ARP 244, H 4-28.1, h 1052
RA: 12h 01m 53.0s, Dec: -18º 52′ 07″ (2000)
Sc Galaxy, vm 10.5, sb 13.3, size 5.2’x3.1′

NGC 4039, ARP 244, H 4-28.2, h 1053
RA: 12h 01m 53.6s, Dec: -18º 53′ 10″ (2000)
SBm Galaxy, vm 10.7, sb 12.2, size 3.1’x1.6′

Through a 16-inch telescope, the pair resembled a puffy V-shape opening to the WSW. NGC 4039 was long and slender compared to its companion. A bright nodular loop surrounded the dark central patch within NGC 4038. Using averted vision while observing through a friend’s 20” telescope, I was able to see hints of the filaments scarcely extending from the eastern base where they join.

Later, I had the opportunity to create a quick eyepiece sketch of the Antennae through Jimi Lowery’s 48-inch reflector. We were both able to confirm long extensions of the antennae at 287x. The filaments were thick near the galaxies’ base; the northern filament branched the furthest of the two. Bright nodular areas (very mottled and somewhat stellar) were observed looping through the northwestern lobe of NGC 4038, breaking apart as it extended south with a thick nodular patch in the middle of the southern edge. A faint notch could be seen at the SSE base where the pair joins. A bright, jagged line extended the full length of NGC 4039 and faint nebulosity outlined both galaxies.


~ by Erika Rix on January 4, 2014.

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