ROYAL OBSERVATORY, EDINBURGH / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL OBSERVATORY, EDINBURGH / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Optical image of the two interacting galaxies NGC 4038 & 4039 which form the complex known as the Antennae. The distorted shape is the result of their collision. The central bright region corresponds to the nuclei of the two galaxies. It is formed by clouds of dust & ionised gases & regions of stellar formation. The outer regions of NGC 4038 & 4039 have been distorted to produce two elongated streamers of stars & gas. The Antennae lies at about 50 million light years from Earth & its total extension is about 500, 000 light years.
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