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Giant Interacting Galaxies NGC 6872/IC 4970
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Name: IC 4970, NGC 6872, Condor galaxy
Description: Interacting Galaxy
Position (J2000): RA 20h 16m 56.58s Dec -70° 46' 6.10"
Constellation: Pavo
Distance: 200 million light years
Visual magnitude: 12
Angular dimensions: 6.0 x 1.7 arcmin
Field of view: 6.83 x 6.83 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 20.0° right of vertical
Image Credit: ESO
Release date: April 30, 1999

Related images:   G9924   G0912   G1437   2014 image:  NGC 6872
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This is a three-color composite reproduced from one blue (B), one green-yellow (V) and one red (R) exposure, obtained with FORS1 at ANTU in the morning of March 29, 1999. The field size is 6.8 x 6.8 arcmin.

It shows the spectacular barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 that is shaped like an "integral sign". It is of type SBb and is accompanied by a smaller, interacting galaxy, IC 4970 of type S0 (just above the center). The bright object to the lower right of the galaxies is a star in the Milky Way whose image has been strongly overexposed and exhibits multiple optical reflections in the telescope and instrument. There are also many other, fainter and more distant galaxies of many different forms in the field.

The upper left spiral arm of NGC 6872 is significantly disturbed and is populated by a plethora of bluish objects, many of which are star-forming regions. This may have been be caused by a recent passage of IC 4970 through it.

This interesting system is located in the southern constellation Pavo (The Peacock). It is comparatively distant, almost 300 million light-years away. It extends over more than 7 arcmin in the sky and its real size from tip to tip is nearly 750,000 light-years. It is in fact one of the largest known, barred spiral galaxies. In order to image all of this extraordinary object within the available field of the FORS1 camera, the instrument was rotated so that the galaxy extends along the diagonal. For this reason, the orientation is such that North is to the upper right and East is to the upper left.