AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 40 Galaxies
Poster, Tuesday, June 1, 2004, 10:00am-7:00pm, Ballroom

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[40.17] Spitzer Space Telescope Observations of the Antennae Galaxies

Z. Wang, G. G. Fazio, M. L. N. Ashby, J. -S. Huang, M. A. Pahre, H. A. Smith, H. P. Willner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), W. J. Forrest, J. L. Pipher (University of Rochester), J. A. Surace (Spitzer Science Center)

We present mid-infrared observations of the Antennae galaxies (NGC 4038/4039) with the Spitzer Space Telescope. The data reveal large concentrations of star forming activity away from both nuclei of the two merging galaxies, confirming earlier findings at lower angular resolution. The emission features are characterized by numerous bright, compact sources that bear clear evidence of clustering, and a fainter, more diffuse component that permeates the entire region and extends into the two tidal tails. The flux in the PAH bands at 6.2, 7.7 and 8.6 microns dominates the broad-band emission, accounting for as much as 95% at the 8 micron IRAC band averaged over the entire galaxy. Our results show that on-going star formation is most active in regions where abundant dense gas and dust are present, and the local rate can be as high as those seen in the extreme cases of starburst and ultraluminous infrared galaxies.

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