NGC 5474

Alt. Designations: NGC 5474
Object Type: spiral galaxy
Constellation: Ursa Major
Distance: 23.5 mly
Right Ascension: 14h 05m 01.4s
Declination: +53° 39´ 46"
Visual Magnitude: 10.6
Apparent Dimension: 4.7´ X 4.7´
Best Month To View: Mar

NGC 5474 is an asymmetric spiral galaxy and it it is being dramatically disturbed by its much larger neighbor M101. At first glance, it might appear that M101 is somehow gravitationally dragging the nucleus right out of NGC 5474. However, astronomers that model these kinds of galactic interactions on a computer find a slightly different story. When using tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of point masses for stars, astronomers found that the asymmetry displayed in NGC 5474 is probably relatively short lived. We just happen to be looking at this galaxy in a state of "sloshed" agitation. As NGC 5474 orbits M101, the amount of asymmetry depends of the relationship between the direction of orbital revolution about M101 and the sense of rotation for NGC 5474's disk. If the revolution is opposite that of disk rotation, as it is in the case of NGC 5474, then the lopsided state can survive for many galactic rotations after an initial (strong) tidal perturbation.