Whale Galaxy NGC4631 & Interacting Hockey Stick Galaxies NGC4656 & 4657

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The Whale Galaxy (centre left), NGC 4631 is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici.

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Description

The Whale Galaxy (centre left), NGC 4631 is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici. This galaxy’s slightly distorted wedge shape gives it the appearance of a herring or a whale, hence its nickname. Because this nearby galaxy is seen edge-on from Earth, professional astronomers observe this galaxy to better understand the gas and stars located outside the plane of the galaxy. To the lower right is NGC 4656-4657, actually two interacting galaxies known collectively as the Crowbar or Hockey Stick.