Image of the Day: Ahab’s Dream -The Whale Galaxy



The Whale Galaxy, NGC 4631, known to have spouted a halo of hot gas glowing in x-rays, lies only 25 million light-years away in the northern constellation Canes Venatici, similar in size to our own Milky Way. The Whale Galaxy is also In this gorgeous color image, the galaxy's yellowish core, dark dust clouds, bright blue star clusters, and red star forming regions are easy to spot.

A companion galaxy, the small elliptical NGC 4627, is just above the Whale Galaxy. Out of view, off the lower edge of the picture lies another distorted galaxy, hockey stick-shaped NGC 4656. The distortions and mingling trails of gas and dust detected at other wavelengths suggest that all three galaxies have had close encounters with each other in their past.

Image Credit: Adam Block, Mount. Lemmon SkyCenter, University of Arizona


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