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Date created: 2007-11-24

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Symmetrical structures in nature always catch the eye and imply a sense of order or design. Often, as here, the symmetry is not perfect which suggests that the design was hasty or the order is more concerned with general principles than fine details. In truth, it is not completely understood why this particular galaxy and the many others like it have two gracefully curved arms with a dusty central bridge between them. This is just one of the reasons that people study spiral galaxies, in the same way that other people seek patterns elsewhere in the natural world. One of the finest in the sky, NGC 1365 is the largest spiral in the southern constellation of Fornax, at a distance of about 60 million light years.

Image derived three AAT plates taken in red, green and blue light.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory