Snakes and Stones

The galaxy pictured in this Hubble Picture of the Week has an especially evocative name: the Medusa merger. 

Often referred to by its somewhat drier New General Catalogue designation of NGC 4194, this was not always one entity, but two. An early galaxy consumed a smaller gas-rich system, throwing out streams of stars and dust out into space. These streams, seen rising from the top of the merger galaxy, resembles the writhing snakes that Medusa, a monster in ancient Greek mythology, famously had on her head in place of hair, lending the object its intriguing name. 

The legend of Medusa also held that anyone who saw her face would transform into stone. In this case, you can feast your eyes without fear on the centre of the merging galaxies, a region known as Medusa's eye. All the cool gas pooling here has triggered a burst of star formation, causing it to stand out brightly against the dark cosmic backdrop.

The Medusa merger is located about 130 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear)

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Adamo

About the Image

Id:potw1939a
Type:Observation
Release date:30 September 2019, 06:00
Size:2073 x 2082 px

About the Object

Name:NGC 4194
Type:Early Universe : Galaxy : Type : Interacting
Distance:130 million light years
Constellation:Ursa Major
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
1.5 MB
Screensize JPEG
302.3 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
295.8 KB
1280x1024
501.6 KB
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769.9 KB
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959.7 KB
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1.3 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):12 14 10.24
Position (Dec):54° 31' 55.02"
Field of view:1.62 x 1.41 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 134.6° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
u
336 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
B
438 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
B
438 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
u
336 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
Hα + [N II]
665 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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