Astronomy Photo of the Day: 03/27/14 – The Whale Galaxy

Joshua FilmerMarch 27th 2014
The Whale Galaxy
Image Credit: Data – Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA Processing – Nikolaus Sulzenauer

This stunning panorama features the whale galaxy. Located 30-million light-years from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici and officially dubbed NGC 4631, the Whale Galaxy is a galaxy very similar to our own Milky Way. The Whale Galaxy is also roughly the same size as the Milky Way, spanning about 140,000 light years.

In this picture, particularly on the far right-hand side, you can see many blue spots that are hot and bright star clusters. Furthermore, the galaxy has a halo of gas that has a particularly stunning glow in X-rays.

NGC 4631 has a distorted shape and tends to resemble a whale when observed (it might come as a shock, but that’s where the nickname came from). The Whale Galaxy is a popular target for amateur astronomers and can be seen from the Northern hemisphere.

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