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NGC 1365, a barred spiral galaxy

Date created: 1991-01-25

Tags: galaxy, spiral, dust, AAT, cluster

Galaxies occur in a variety of shapes, but among the most eye-catching are the spirals, especially barred spirals. One of the finest in the sky is NGC 1365, the largest spiral in the southern constellation of Fornax, at a distance of about 60 million light years.

This beautiful galaxy is about as massive as the Milky Way, itself a substantial system. Not much is known about how galaxies take on their beautiful forms, but a good deal is known about their internal organisation. The obvious 'bar' has the nucleus of the galaxy at its hub and is surrounded by masses of cooler stars that appear yellow on colour photographs. The bar itself is also yellowish, and has distinct dust lanes but it terminates abruptly in slender, curved arms that are lit by blue stars and the pink star-forming regions from which they spring.

This galaxy is a member of the nearby Fornax cluster of galaxies that includes NGC 1316–17, the radio source Fornax A.

Photograph made from plates taken in December, 1990.
Top left is NE. Image width is about 12 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory