Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

October 8, 1999
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
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NGC 1365: Barred Spiral Galaxy
Credit: Ground-based image: Allan Sandage (Carnegie Observatories), John Bedke (CSC, STScI)
WFPC2 image:John Trauger (JPL), NASA
NICMOS image: C. Marcella Carollo (JHU, Columbia U.), NASA, ESA

Explanation: NGC 1365 is a giant barred spiral galaxy about 200,000 light-years in diameter and 60 million light-years distant in the southern constellation Fornax. These three recently released images offer views of this majestic island universe in visible and infrared light. In the middle is an optical ground-based image showing NGC 1365's dramatic spiral arms trailing away from its central galactic bar. Superposed colored rectangles define the corresponding fields of the inset images. At upper left, a Hubble Space Telescope near visible light image shows young blue star clusters and dark dust lanes located near the center of NGC 1365. The bright yellow nucleus likely houses a massive black hole. At lower right, the Hubble infrared view of the galaxy's center also shows young star clusters as bright blue spots but additionally reveals infrared-bright spots corresponding to newborn clusters still hidden from optical view by dust clouds. Astronomers believe the gravity field of NGC 1365's bar plays a crucial role in the galaxy's evolution, funneling gas and dust into the central star-forming maelstrom and ultimately feeding material into its massive black hole.

Tomorrow's picture: Froth

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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