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Extensive Gas Tail in the Peculiar Galaxy Arp 299
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Extensive Gas Tail in the Peculiar Galaxy Arp 299

November 4, 2003
A composite image of the optical light (green and yellow) and cold atomic hydrogen gas (blue) in the peculiar galaxy Arp 299, also known as NGC 3690/IC 694. Arp 299 is the result of two spiral galaxies which are in the process of colliding and merging into a single object. The atomic hydrogen observations (shown in blue in the image), taken with the Very Large Array, reveal a tremendous HI tail extending 55,000 light years (180 kiloparsecs) from the main bodies of the merging galaxies (see also this alternative version of these same data). Curiously, the gas tail is displaced from the optical tail (green in the figure), an unexpected and presently unexplained phenomena.


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