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Entire DOCdb database of 18,816 objects.



NGC 4039 (8,656 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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The Antennae (NGC 4039)

NGC 4039, LEDA 37969, ESO 572-48, MCG-03-31-015, Arp 244, Caldwell 61, Ring Tail, The Antennae, IV 28, h 1053, GC 2671

RA: 12h 01m 53.67s
Dec: −18° 53′ 9.4″

Con: Corvus
Ch: MSA:846, U2:328, SA:21


(reference key)

Type: galaxies (interacting), SBm

Mag: B=11.0, V=10.4

Size: 3.4′ x 1.7′
PA: 94°

Image gallery

Photos  (7)

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Ring tail name by Shapley, H. & Paraskevopoulos, J.S. (1940), p35. [1940PNAS...26...31S]

This spiral-type galaxy, also known as Arp 244B, is interacting with NGC 4038. The grouping lies in Corvus and is known as the Antennae or the Ring-tail. This is the fainter companion (mag 13.0) and measures 6' on photographs.

Historical observations

William Herschel (c.1784)

Discovered in 1785 by William Herschel with an 18.7-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He called it "pB, L, opening with a branch, or two nebulae very faintly joined. The southern is smallest."

Published comments

Shapley, H. & Paraskevopoulos, J.S. (1940)

Galactic and Extragalactic Studies, III. Photographs of thirty southern nebulae and clusters. Proc. N.A.S., 26, 31-36.

Arp (1966)

Together with NGC 4038 listed as No. 244 in Arp's "Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies" (Astrophysical Journal Supplement, vol. 14, 1966.)

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

(Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 13.0 mag galaxy. Their coded description reads HISB,EL,BM,DIF,IRR, KNY.

van den Bergh, S. (1961)

, Astronomical Journal, Vol 66) notes that this galaxy could be a radio source. He remarks: "Colliding supergiant spiral in a small very open cluster."

Van den Bergh (1961)

Van den Bergh (1961, Astronomical Journal, Vol 66, p566) notes that this galaxy forms a pure pair with NGC 4038 1.2 arcminutes away.

Helwan Obs. Bulletin No 21 (1920)

The s. portion of NGC 4038, not a separate nebula.

Modern observations

Brian Skiff

Ferris: pair 12" sep in pa55, 6'.2 ESE. f * E @ 3'.3 E. * NW @ 1'.6.

15cm - lg, br, circ. 2'.5 diam w/o much concen to center. 5'.75 SE of m8 *. 90x.

25cm - ah! dbl system. semicirc outline like a cashew, 2'.5 diam total. N lobe brtr (-38). bridge arcs around E semicircle to -39. seems to be a * on S side of -38 or poss its *ar nuc. 180x. (sketch in notes)

30cm - -38 is a little brtr and lgr. elong in pa100, w/convex Nrn perimeter and trailing ends, partic the Ern one. a m13.8 * lies 1' NW. the pair is in pa20. -39 is inclined twd -38 in pa80. -38 is irreg concen w/two lg condens. much irreg haze is assoc. E is f *, then f 10" pair.

Walter Scott Houston

writes: "Skilled deep-sky observers Ronald Morales described that pair as looking like a little shrimp, and I think others will agree . . . the system is about 2.5' in diameter and 11th magnitude. It's easily visible in my 4-inch Clark, and I can easily make out the unusual shape though a 10-inch reflector."

Sanford (1989) Observing the Constellations

Telescopically the grouping looks "like a doughnut with a bite taken out of it," says Sanford. "It has fairly high surface brightness, so is interesting in any scope with an aperture of 6-inches and upwards."

Hartung, E.J. (1968) Astron.Obj.South.Tel

writes: "These .. nebulae, each about 2.5' long, are inclined 40 and in contact following. Both are broadly but not brightly luminous with little central condensation and a 6-inch is needed to show the forms well. This pair is very similar in appearance to NGC 4567-8 on the northern edge of Virgo, but is larger and better placed for southern observers."

Bahr-Vollrath, Gerd (1992)

(Noosa Heads, Queensland, Australia) observing with an 8-inch f/12 SCT, writes in The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 10, July 1992: "Two small, oval, mottled glows which seem almost to touch. The northern object [NGC 4038] is distinctly brighter and shows intense mottling, showing interesting detail at high powers. The two faint extensions that give the galaxy pair its name did not show."

Contemporary observations

Magda Streicher

1 Feb 2008

NGC 4038 & 4039 CORVUS add

Merging Galaxies

Tel: 12" S/C 76x - 218x - Date: 1 Feb 2008 Site: Alldays - good

This twin lobbed merging galaxies is quite impressive in there appearance. The larger northern galaxy NGC 4038 bulge out in a more round-dish shape towards the west. The nucleus is much brighter towards the middle, The southern member NGC 4039 is smaller and slightly thinner, well connect with NGC 4038 towards the east and been hold in the cradle of NGC 4038 belly. The light of the smaller member is more even spread over the surface. Both grow slightly apart on the west, which I recall in my mind as the bleeding heart impression.

Richard Ford

2010 February 14,Sunday


Instrument:12"Dobsonian Reflector Telescope.

Sky Conditions:Dark moon and stars magnitude 6 and fainter are barely visible with the naked eye.

Transparency of the Sky:The most clear sky possible.

Seeing:Excellent clean sky,limited star flickering and brilliant objects.

Limiting Magnitude:6.5.

First Impression:Galaxy.



Chart Number:No.11(Extract taken out of "Atlas of the Night Sky").

Size:26mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:57'/13=4.3'.

20mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:50'/12=4.1'.



Size in Arc Minutes:4.2'.


Brightness Profile:Low Surface Brightness.

Challenge Rating:Difficult to observe in a small telescope but well seen in a large telescope.



NGC 4038 and NGC 4039 are two galaxies joined to each other like an antennae.By observing these two galaxies,I have found that this galaxy has an irregular appearance in outlook.This galaxy is well defined and that it does not have a galactic nucleus.Close to the vicinity of this galaxy there are some bright individual stars within the vicinity of this galaxy.In this galaxy there are plenty of darker areas within the outskirts of this galaxy.I have found areas of uneven brightness readily noticeable on the outskirts of this galaxy.

Tom Bryant

2009-04-17 22:30:00

Observing site: Pinnacles overlook

Telescope: C-11

[12h 1m 54s, -18 53' 0"] With 4039, the "antenna" galaxies in Corvus. No sign of the faint "antenna", but the galaxies themselves showed a wealth of mottled detail, and looked much like their pictures.

Favourite lists

Lacaille's catalogue

The Messier objects

Dunlop's catalogue

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