||NGC 4631 (The Whale Galaxy) is an enormous Sc type spiral galaxy seen
edge-on. The galaxy is apparently distorted slightly due to the
companion galaxy, NGC 4627. The pair together are included in the Arp
Catalog of Peculiar galaxies as ARP 281. This group of galaxies is between
25-30 million light years away. Note in the most recent image (top) the
faint tidal tails between these two galaxies can be seen.
Out of the field of view to the southeast (down and left in these images) is the companion galaxy NGC 4656, which shows significant distortions, apparently due to tidal interactions with NGC 4631; detailed surveys of the region have shown that a tenuous bridge of hydrogen gas connects the two, indicating this past history of interaction.
color production was used to create this image.
(These values are for the top image)
Minimum credit line: John Vickery and Jim Matthes/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF (top image)
Diane Zeiders and Jim Brooke/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF (bottom image)
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