NGC 4027

For 6-inches or larger telescopes

NGC 4027 (Arp 22, MCG -3-31-8, ESO 572 37, PGC 37773) is an 11.7 magnitude, face-on spiral galaxy that is interacting with one or more of its fainter neighbors. Its shape is very irregular, extending roughly 3.2' x 2.5'.

This stange, interacting galaxy lies less than a degree to the southwest of the famous Antennae (Ring Tail) pair of interacting galaxies.

In smaller scopes look for a small, elongated smudge of light. This bright southern region should be apparent in any scope. Look for a faint halo surrounding the galaxy; the bright region will be defintely off center in the halo. There is a faint star to the northeast of the bright portion. The curving arc emanating from the bright region should be visible arcing through this star in larger instruments with good seeing.

The faint companion to the south, NGC 4027A, should be visible in large instruments from a dark site. This tiny 15-th magnitude galaxy is a mere 56" x 38" across.

I observed NGC 4027 in my 18-inch Dob in March 2000. Here are my notes from that session:

This galaxy appeared large and obvious at 82x. On the south side I could see a tiny smudge, elongated in the east/west direction. A faint, round halo could be glimpsed with averted vision. My best view came at 165x. The appearance was very strange because the bright smudge does not lie at the center of the halo. To the northeast lay a star, which is just at the edge of the halo. I saw no sign of NGC 4027A on this night.

The view in an 8-inch at 65x. North is down, east is right.
The strange appearance of NGC 4027 is likely due to gravitational interaction with at least one nearby galaxy, NGC 4027A in particular. The one bright spiral arm shines with the light of bright, blue stars, indicating a recent episode of star birth. Star formation always seems to accompany this sort of interaction, as the gas clouds collide to produce stars. NGC 4027A is also very distorted, showing signs of tidal stripping; a stream of gas seems to have been ripped away from it. Both these galaxies lie some 70 million light years distant.

This image from the DSS shows a 20' x' 20' field. North is down and east is to the right.

Millennium Star Atlas Vol II Chart 847
Sky Atlas 2000 Chart 20
Uranometria 2000 Vol II Charts 327