Binary King Galaxy

Status: Fake
image Dave forwarded me this email he received (which, he noted, was dated April 1, so it seemed a bit suspicious to him). The subject line of the email reads: DEEP-SPACE PHOTO: EP_4277. The text reads: The subject of this photo is a very rare one indeed - taken by NASA with the Hubble space telescope. This is the only documented existence of a binary king galaxy in our known universe.

Astronomy is definitely not my expertise. I wouldn't even be able to find the Big Dipper on a clear night. So although I know what a binary galaxy is (two galaxies orbiting each other), I have no idea what a 'binary king galaxy' is. (A google search pulls up nothing for the term.) I was able to find out that the Hubble space telescope has photographed binary galaxies. For instance, see this BBC article from 1999. But the 1999 image of a binary galaxy looks nothing like the image in Dave's email. So is the picture Dave sent really a Hubble space telescope image of the only binary king galaxy known to astronomers? I have no idea.

Update: Thanks to Brian T. who found the original image, lacking the 'binary king galaxy,' on the Hubble website, thereby proving that the above image is a fake. Now the question is, why did someone fake this? If it's a joke, I don't get it.

Photos Science

Posted on Wed Apr 19, 2006


I'd say this is an April Fools joke. The photograph itself is a Hubble one allright, but I think the two objects are photoshopped on it. To me they suspiciously look like an image of the Helix-nebula with spiral arms attached. (the Helix nebula is a planetary nebula in our own galaxy). And I've never heard of a "King Galaxy" either.
Posted by LaMa  on  Wed Apr 19, 2006  at  10:47 AM
I figure it's shopped. The first positive hit when googling "eye of god" galaxy gives this link:

Check the picture, it's on Snopes somewhere as well. Real galaxy, duplicated and monkeyed about with.
Posted by Leighton  on  Wed Apr 19, 2006  at  11:06 AM
It looks to me like either a binary RING galaxy or the same ring galaxy thats undergone gravitational lensing, or a photoshoped image.
Posted by Cthelmax  on  Wed Apr 19, 2006  at  01:25 PM
Fake as all hell. Looks like somebody took either the Helix or Ring nebula, added two crappy spiral arms, cloned and flipped them. If I recall correctly that's a section of the Hubble Deep Field. The galaxies wouldn't look like exact clones of each other, and they would probably be merging by now unless the effect was only line of sight. While galaxies can have other, smaller galaxies that orbit them (our own galaxy has a few) they usually merge with other, larger galaxies or their gravitational interraction causes them to distort.

Also the "eye of God" is not a galaxy. It's a planetary nebula, the remains of a star after its been through its life. In fact the Helix Nebula (known as the Eye of God to some") is in our own galaxy!
Posted by Soldant  on  Wed Apr 19, 2006  at  04:37 PM
It doesn't appear to be the same image of the object pasted onto the picture, with one copy of it flipped over. I magnified the picture a bit, isolated the two "king galaxies" and tried flipping them around various ways. They each seem to be quite distinct from each other.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope webpage is at if anybody with a faster computer than mine wants to sift through it (it takes me at least five minutes just to open a small image). I did searches on it, though, for "binary king galaxies", "binary ring galaxies", "binary king galaxy", "binary ring galaxy", "king galaxy", "ring galaxy", "deep-space photo EP_4277", "EP_4277", "EP-4277", and "EP4277" without finding that image.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Apr 19, 2006  at  09:37 PM
No, I can assure you that it is faked.
Posted by Soldant  on  Wed Apr 19, 2006  at  11:32 PM
Sorry not done yet:

Additionally, the designations commonly attached to deep space pictures are applied to the things in the image, not the picture itself. For example, NGC6020 would refer to an object in a picture, not the picture itself. I am not aware of the EP catalogue.

Also these galaxies, unless they were line of sight only (which means one is literally monsterous comparied to the other, and would more likely be an eliptical galaxy than a spiral galaxy) would be merging if they were really that close. In the image, their spiral arms aren't even slightly warped by the other's position. The structure looks wrong as well, I highly doubt it'd have such a large center and tiny little spiral arms like that, it should be distributed more in the spiral arms instead of this mass in the middle. It looks like some hideous hybrid between an eliptical and spiral galaxy.

For two galaxies to look almost EXACTLY the same is impossible. Additionally, the centers of the galaxies would NOT be blue, commonly ascioated with reflection nebulae. It would be VERY, VERY BRIGHT since this is is where the majority of stars eventually sit in galaxies as well as theoretical black holes.

If you take a look at how galaxies are thought to form, and view pictures of other non-bared spiral galaxies, you'll see this simply cannot occur.
Posted by Soldant  on  Thu Apr 20, 2006  at  01:01 AM
It's a fake. I found the original on the Hubble website.

Posted by Brian T  on  Thu Apr 20, 2006  at  08:37 AM
I can find Orion. :cheese:
Posted by Maegan  on  Thu Apr 20, 2006  at  10:17 AM
Very good Maegan. Have a star. 😉
Posted by Smerk  on  Thu Apr 20, 2006  at  06:35 PM
A google search for "binary king galaxy" gives 3 results, one of them is here. Google thinks "binary king" is wrong and suggests "binaryking galaxy" which gives no results!
Posted by Ian  on  Fri Apr 21, 2006  at  04:58 PM
Is Binary King any relation to Burger King?
Posted by wondering  on  Sat Apr 22, 2006  at  11:59 PM
Interesting thing.. have square eyes due to reading your write-ups for almost 8 hours straight at work (I'm highly motivated) You may have inadvertently answered your own question in regards to the term "binary king galaxy" in your article on the kitten born with eight legs. If you click on the link you provided:

about halfway down the page there is a blurb "Mistaken diagnosis of conjoined kittens". In the article it calls animals fused together "king" ie. "king rats" and "squirrel kings". Perhaps the term "Binary King Galaxy" is the hoaxsters way of saying the two galaxies are stuck together. Thanks for the entertainment.
Posted by Rhiannon  on  Tue Jul 11, 2006  at  03:50 AM
Has anybody played with the brightness or contrast on this photo? When I view my LCD monitor at an angle, it looks like there might be something in the background. (Maybe just my imagination!) :roll:
Posted by Mark  on  Fri Jul 14, 2006  at  07:48 PM
Actualy the whole deep field is a nice fake from the NASA.
Posted by Pipoo  on  Mon Nov 27, 2006  at  07:47 PM
King Galaxy Mystery Solved on April Fool's Day

Rotate the image 90 degrees counter-clockwise and adjust the brightness and contrast so that the interstellar "dust" comes plainly into view.

EP 42 [19]77

There's your King!
Posted by Mark  on  Wed Apr 01, 2009  at  04:07 PM
Holy mackerel, Mark you're right!
I did what you said and here's what I got:
Posted by Leo  on  Thu Apr 02, 2009  at  07:17 AM
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