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NGC4631 “Whale Galaxy” and NGC4656 “Hockey Stick Galaxy” in Canes Venatici
 Enjoy the exceptionally detailed view of the NGC4631 and NGC4656 pair of galaxies in the constellation Canes Venatici. Martin Myslivec needed 26 hours of exposures in red, green and blue filters to get color information as well as exposures without filter to obtain luminance image. Martin used his G3-16200 camera on a custom 30cm f/3.8 Newtonian astrograph.

The bigger NGC4631 on the left is nicknamed “Whale Galaxy”. NGC4631 is probably rather typical spiral galaxy, but visible from the side. It shows yellowish central bulge, composed mainly of old stars, as well as dark interstellar dust lanes and reddish hydrogen clouds around the galaxy disk. Light blue portions indicate presence of many bright, young blue stars.

The smaller NGC4656 on the right side is nicknamed “Hockey Stick Galaxy”. Its color is mainly blue because of the large amount of young blue stars. Typically, abundance of star birth activity indicates some violent event, which triggered the condensation of gas clouds into proto-stars, which lead to occurrence of many new young stars. Such event is very often merger of two galaxies and the slightly irregular shape of NGC4656 and also streams of stars reaching far from the galaxy spiral arms hint such merger occurred only recently (astronomically speaking).

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