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Deep Space Spotlight: NGC 1365, the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy

NGC 136, the Great Barred Sprial Galaxy, photo credit ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team
Photo: NGC 1365, aka the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy | ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team

NGC 1365 is an enormous, visually-stunning spiral galaxy located in the Fornax Cluster.At 20,000 lightyears across (twice the length of the Milky Way), it’s one of the largest galaxies currently known to astronomers.

With its sheer size and impressive features, to call it “great” would almost seem to be an understatement. The dense nebula at its nucleus creates the perfect conditions for new stars to form as gas and dust contract and eventually collapse inward.At NGC 1365’s center is a supermassive black hole that rotates close to the speed of light and is thought to have a mass more than 2 million times greater than that of our Sun.

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1 A rich cluster of 58 galaxies, located mostly within the constellation Fornax, the Furnace. It is the second most dense galaxy cluster known to astronomers.

2 Locations in space like these are often referred to as stellar nurseries! We think that’s pretty cute.