NGC 4438 (top) and NGC 4435 (bottom) taken by the FORS2 instrument of the Very Large Telescope in 2011 (Credit: ESO)
|Observation data (J2000.0 epoch)|
|Right ascension||12h 27m 45.6s(J2000)|
|Declination||+13° 00' 31" (J2000)|
|Distance||52 million ly|
|Apparent magnitude (V)||+10|
|Absolute magnitude (V)||12|
|Apparent size (V)||?|
|NGC 4435-8, Arp 120. VV 188|
The Eyes Galaxies (NGC 4435-NGC 4438, also known as Arp 120) are a pair of galaxies about 52 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. In the Catalogue of Named Galaxies, they are called Oppa Virginis and Omma Virginis, after two Greek words for "eye". This galaxy takes its name from its ring structure which made it popular. The pair are members of the string of galaxies known as Markarian's Chain.
NGC 4435 is a barred lenticular galaxy currently interacting with NGC 4438. Studies of the galaxy by the Spitzer Space Telescope revealed a relatively young (190 million years) stellar population within the galaxy's nucleus, whose origin may have arose through the interaction with NGC 4438 compressing gas and dust in that region, triggering a starburst. It also has a long tidal tail possibly caused by the interaction with the mentioned galaxy; however other studies suggest that tail is actually a galactic cirrus in the Milky Way totally unrelated to NGC 4435.
NGC 4438 is the most curious interacting galaxy in the Virgo Cluster, due to the uncertainty surrounding the energy mechanism that heats the nuclear source; this energy mechanism may be a starburst region, or a black hole-powered active galactic nucleus (AGN). Both hypotheses are currently under investigation by astronomers.
This galaxy shows a highly distorted disk, including long tidal tails due to the gravitational interactions with other galaxies in the cluster and its companion. The aforementioned features explain why sources differ to classify it as a lenticular or spiral galaxy. NGC 4438 also shows signs of a past, extended, -but modest- starburst, a considerable deficience of neutral hydrogen, as well as a displacement of the components of its interstellar medium -atomic hydrogen, molecular hydrogen, interstellar dust, and hot gas- in the direction of NGC 4435. This observation suggests both a tidal interaction with NGC 4435 and the effects of ram-pressure stripping as NGC 4438 moves at high speed through Virgo's intracluster medium, increased by the encounter between both galaxies.
As interacting galaxies
While there is evidence to suggest that the environmental damage to the interstellar medium of NGC 4438 may have been caused by an off-center collision with NGC 4435 millions of years ago, a recent discovery of several filaments of ionized gas link NGC 4438 with the large neighboring elliptical galaxy Messier 86, in addition to a discovery of gas and dust within M86 that may have been stripped from NGC 4438 during a past encounter between the two. Given the high density of galaxies in the center of the Virgo galaxy cluster, it's possible the three galaxies, NGC 4435, NGC 4438, and M86, have had past interactions.
In popular culture
In the 2014 film Interstellar, "NGC 4438" along with specific observation data can be seen in Murphy Cooper (Jessica Chastain)'s notepad during the film's climactic sequence. As the presence of a supermassive black hole in the AGC of NGC 4438 is one of two leading theories, the galaxy is potentially that accessed by the wormhole in the film.
NGC 4435 and dust ring around its nucleus by HST, 1.8′ view
Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image of NGC 4438.
- NGC 4438
- The Eyes Galaxies on WikiSky: DSS2, SDSS, GALEX, IRAS, Hydrogen α, X-Ray, Astrophoto, Sky Map, Articles and images
- Bodifee, Gerard. "Catalogue of One Thousand Named Galaxies" (PDF). Retrieved 21 May 2017.
- Panuzzo, P.; Vega, O.; Bressan, A.; Buson, L.; et al. (2007). "The Star Formation History of the Virgo Early-Type Galaxy NGC 4435: The Spitzer Mid-Infrared View". The Astrophysical Journal. 656 (1): 206–216. Bibcode:2007ApJ...656..206P. arXiv: . doi:10.1086/510147.
- The Tail of NGC 4435
- Cortese, L.; Bendo, G. J.; Isaak, K. G.; Davies, J. I.; et al. (2010). "Diffuse far-infrared and ultraviolet emission in the NGC 4435/4438 system: tidal stream or Galactic cirrus?". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. 403 (1): L26–L30. Bibcode:2010MNRAS.403L..26C. arXiv: . doi:10.1111/j.1745-3933.2009.00808.x.
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- Vollmer, B.; Braine, J.; Combes, F.; Sofue, Y. (2005). "New CO observations and simulations of the NGC 4438/NGC 4435 system. Interaction diagnostics of the Virgo cluster galaxy NGC 4438". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 441 (2): 473–489. Bibcode:2005A&A...441..473V. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20041389.
- Kenney, Jeffrey D. P.; Tal, Tomer; Crowl, Hugh H.; Feldmeier, John; et al. (2008). "A Spectacular Hα Complex in Virgo: Evidence for a Collision between M86 and NGC 4438 and Implications for the Collisional ISM Heating of Ellipticals". The Astrophysical Journal. 687 (2): L69-L94. Bibcode:2008ApJ...687L..69K. arXiv: . doi:10.1086/593300.
- Gomez, H. L.; Baes, M.; Cortese, L.; Smith, M. W. L.; et al. (2010). "A Spectacular Hα Complex in Virgo: Evidence for a Collision between M86 and NGC 4438 and Implications for the Collisional ISM Heating of Ellipticals". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 518. Bibcode:2010A&A...518L..45G. arXiv: . doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201014530. L45.
- "Big Galaxy Collisions Can Stunt Star Formation" (Press release). National Optical Astronomy Observatory. October 7, 2008.
- David Darling. "The Eyes (NGC 4435 and 4438)". Encyclopedia of Science.
- "VLT Looks into The Eyes of the Virgin". ESO Photo Release. 24 August 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.