Interacting Galaxies NGC 6621/2

The tidally shredded galaxies NGC 6621/2, near the north ecliptic pole in Draco, shown from an R-band exposure with a Tektronix 2048x2048 CCD at the prime focus of the 4-meter Mayall telescope of Kitt Peak National Observatory. North is at the top and east to the left, for direct comparison with a chart or eyepiece view. A 512x512-pixel region is shown in this presentation, which uses a logarithmic intensity transformation to preserve information across a wide dynamic range. The field shown is 3.6 arcminutes square. Spectroscopy shows that the internal motions in this pair (also known as Karachentsev 534) are dramatically disturbed, with distortions almost as large as the internal orbital speeds within the large spiral. Comparison with numerical models indicates that this is an early view of a strong interaction. Stay tuned for multicolor HST imaging, now scheduled for 1999, designed to tell whether the star formation already produces the massive, luminous clusters seen in many later and merging interactions.

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Last changes: December 1998