Atomic Gas in The Antennae
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Atomic Gas in The Antennae

November 4, 2003
Composite image of the nearby merging galaxy, NGC 4038/9, also known as "The Antennae", due to the antennae-like morphology of its two prominant tidal tails. The image shows the optical starlight depicted in green and white, with the neutral atomic gas depicted in blue. This system is composed of two spiral galaxies which are in the process of slamming together, throwing off two long, narrow tidal streamers. The atomic hydrogen observations, obtained with the VLA, provide information on both the distribution of the gas (as shown), as well as its kinematics. The latter are useful for constraining numerical models of the encounter to help astronomers construct its past and future evolution.

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