Images by Date
Images by Category
Solar System
Stars
White Dwarfs
Supernovas
Neutron Stars
Black Holes
Milky Way Galaxy
Normal Galaxies
Quasars
Galaxy Clusters
Cosmology/Deep Field
Miscellaneous
Images by Interest
Space Scoop for Kids
Multiwavelength
Sky Map
Constellations
3D Wall
Photo Blog
Top Rated Images
Image Handouts
Desktops
High Res Prints
Fits Files
Image Tutorials
Photo Album Tutorial
False Color
Cosmic Distance
Look-Back Time
Scale & Distance
Angular Measurement
Images & Processing
AVM/Metadata
Getting Hard Copies
Image Use Policy
Web Shortcuts
Chandra Blog
RSS Feed
Chandra Mobile
Chronicle
Email Newsletter
News & Noteworthy
Image Use Policy
Questions & Answers
Glossary of Terms
Download Guide
Get Adobe Reader
More Information
Normal Galaxies & Starburst Galaxies
Related Podcasts
Chandra's Archives Come to Life
Download Image

More Information

More Images
Chandra X-ray Image of The Antennae
(Credit:NASA/CXC/SAO/G. Fabbiano et al.)

Animation & Video

More Releases
Antennae
Antennae
(05 Aug 10)
Antennae
Antennae
(05 Jun 01)
Antennae
Antennae
(16 Aug 00)

Related Images
M82
M82
05 Jun 01)
Antennae:
Chandra Locates Mother Lode of Planetary Ore in Colliding Galaxies


Antennae
Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/G.Fabbiano et al.

This montage of Chandra images shows a pair of interacting galaxies known as The Antennae. Rich deposits of neon, magnesium, and silicon were discovered in the interstellar gas of this system.

The top image, a wide field X-ray view, reveals spectacular loops of hot gas spreading out from the southern part of The Antenna into intergalactic space. Also shown are huge clouds of multimillion degree gas and bright point like sources due to neutron stars and black holes. The image is color coded so that low, medium and high energy X-rays appear as red, green and blue, respectively.

Direct hits between stars are extremely rare when galaxies collide, but huge gas clouds can crash into each other at high speeds, creating shock waves that heat the clouds and the surrounding gas to millions of degrees. In the closeup view on the lower left, also color coded by X-ray energies, the point sources have been taken out to emphasize the hot gas clouds in the central regions of The Antennae.

Collisions between the gas clouds may trigger a stellar baby boom. The most massive of these young stars race through their evolution in a few million years and explode as supernovas. Heavy elements manufactured inside these stars are blown away by the explosions that further heat the gas clouds and enrich them with heavy elements such as neon, magnesium, silicon and iron.

The image at the lower right is processed and color-coded to show regions rich in iron (red), magnesium (green) and silicon (blue). These are the types of elements that form the ultimate building blocks for habitable planets.

Enrichment from supernovas occurs in all galaxies, but usually the new elements are observed in a highly diluted form as they are mixed up with the rest of the interstellar gas. This Chandra image is remarkable in that it shows clouds in which magnesium and silicon are 16 and 24 times as abundant as in the Sun.

As the enriched gas cools, a new generation of stars will form, and with them new planets. A number of studies indicate that clouds enriched in heavy elements are more likely to form stars with planetary systems. Several hundred million years from now, an unusually high number of planets may form in The Antennae.

Fast Facts for Antennae:
Credit  NASA/CXC/SAO/G.Fabbiano et al.
Scale  Image is 4.8 arcmin across.
Category  Normal Galaxies & Starburst Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 12h 01m 53.70s | Dec -18 52' 35.5''
Constellation  Corvus
Observation Dates  December 1, 1999; December 29, 2001;
November 22, 2002; May 31, 2002;
April 18, 2002; July 10, 2002; July 13, 2002
Observation Time  117 hours
Obs. IDs  315, 3040-44, 3718
Color Code  Energy (Red: 0.3-0.65 keV, Green: 0.65-1.5 keV, Blue: 1.5-6.0 keV)
Instrument  ACIS
Also Known As NGC 4038, NGC 4039
References G. Fabbiano et al. 2003, Astrophys. J. Letters (in press), "X-raying Chemical Evolution and Galaxy Formation in The Antennae"
Distance Estimate  60 million light years
Release Date  January 07, 2004