NGC 4631

Spiral Galaxy NGC 4631 (= H V.42), type Sc in Canes Venatici

Herring Galaxy, Whale Galaxy


Right Ascension 12 : 42.1 (h:m)
Declination +32 : 33 (deg:m)
Distance 30,000 (kly)
Visual Brightness 9.8 (mag)
Apparent Dimension 17.0 x 3.5 (arc min)

Discovered by William Herschel in 1787.

NGC 4631 is a huge edge-on spiral galaxy, which is apparently distorted by its small elliptical companion, NGC 4627. This pair has been included in Arp's Catalog of Peculiar Galaxies as Arp 281. Rich field telescopes show it in one field with its large, heavily distorted companion, NGC 4656; this galaxy seems to have interacted massively with NGC 4631: there's a bridge of hydrogen gas connecting both galaxies.

The name Herring Galaxy (or Nebula) is given in the interstellarum Deep Sky magazine (No. 3, May-July 1995), the name "Whale Galaxy" occurs in the Thompson & Bryan Supernova Search Charts series.

Our image was obtained by Sven Kohle and Till Credner by combining pictures made with a 2048 x 2048 CCD camera, using B-, V-, and I-Filter, through the 1-meter telescope of the Hoher List observatory of the University of Bonn. The image is copyrighted by the authors. Also look at their image gallery.

In the SAC 110 best NGC object list. In the RASC's Finest N.G.C. Objects Objects list. Caldwell 32 in Patrick Moore's list.

  • Chandra X-ray Observatory has investigated NGC 4631 in X-rays

  • NED data of NGC 4631
  • SIMBAD Data of NGC 4631
  • Publications on NGC 4631 (NASA ADS)
  • Observing Reports for NGC 4631 (IAAC Netastrocatalog)
  • NGC Online data for NGC 4631

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: June 27, 1998