HOCKEY STICK GALAXY
NGC 4656, the Hockey Stick Galaxy, is a highly disturbed galaxy or galaxies depending on who you read, located in Canes Venatici. It carries two NGC numbers, NGC 4656 which refers to the main core region and NGC 4657 which refers to the bright northeast end. While many papers through the 1980's and even a few into the 90's call this system an interacting pair most today feel it is just one highly distorted galaxy that came too close to nearby NGC 4631 and its distorted satellite NGC 4627. Its redshift puts it a bit over 40 million light-years away but most sources put it and NGC 4631 about 25 million light-years away.
A large spiral galaxy, discovered bu William Hershel in 1787, that has been significantly distorted through interaction with its large neighbor NGC 4631 to the southeast. The bright northeastern edge of the galaxy appears offset, forming the sticks blade. A particulary bright knot in this edge has been assigned the seperate NGC number NGC 4657, Hershel having cataloged it seperately as H I.177. Beyond this knot, the galaxy curves up giving it the characteristic shape.