Posted by BC on May 27th, 2008
The Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038/4039) are the closest major merging system to us. The distance to that system was previously thought to be 65 million light years away but now through new research is determined to be 45 million light years away. The red super giants in the system are the key components for redetermining the distances. “A New Red Giant-based Distance Molulus of 13.3 Mpc to the Antennae Galaxies and Its Concequences” explains the research.
The Antennae Galaxies in Corvus are colliding and provide a spectacular sight for observers. There are no stars bumping into each other. Well, none that we can see visually. But members of the pair are passing through each other. They can be seen through a modest sized telescope and perhaps binoculars if the observer is in a dark area. The Hubble Space Telescope web site has more information and photos.