NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES / COLOURED BY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES / COLOURED BY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Spiral galaxy NGC 4631. Coloured optical image of the edge-on spiral galxy NGC 4631, one of the largest spiral galaxies known. It lies around 27 million light years from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici, The Hunting Dogs. It is also known as the Whale or Herring galaxy. The fuzzy glow (blue) at upper centre is the small companion galaxy NGC 4627. This elliptical galaxy orbits NGC 4631 and is thought to be slightly distorting it. This image was taken by the 4-metre telescope, Kitt Peak National Observatory, USA.
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