NGC 4494 -- Elliptical Galaxy in Coma Berenices
A Head Louse in Berences’ Hair
The Elliptical Galaxy NGC 4494 resides near the inside edge of the Coma Open Star Cluster
(Melotte 111 /Collinder 256) best known as Berenices Hair. The galaxy is also about a
degree west of the Needle Galaxy (NGC 4565). NGC 4494 and the Needle Galaxy are about
the same magnitude, but NGC 4494 is a tight ball of light, while the Needle Galaxy is far
narrower and more extended. Thus NGC 4494 appears the brighter of the two and can even be
glimpsed from my suburban backyard with my 2.4-inch f/15 Monolux refractor while the Needle
Galaxy remains invisible in the small refractor.
This Elliptical Galaxy is known to harbor a truly huge black hole at its core that has a mass equal
to 25 million times that of our sun.
Being an entomologist, I think of NGC 4494 as a louse-nit in Berences’ Hair.