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Fine Details in a Barred Galaxy
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Name: NGC 1365
Description: Barred spiral galaxy
Position (J2000): RA 3h 33m 36.28s Dec -36° 8' 27.74"
Constellation: Fornax
Distance: 60 million light years
Visual magnitude: 9.6
Angular size: 11.2 x 6.2 arcmin
Field of view: 6.80 x 6.79 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 0.3° left of vertical
Image Credit: ESO
Release date: February 27, 1999

1999 image: G9920   2010 Image: G1037   2010 Infrared: G1038
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NGC 1365 is one of the most prominent "barred" galaxies in the sky. It is a supergiant galaxy with a diameter of about 200,000 light-years, seen in the direction of the southern constellation Fornax (The Furnace). It is a major member of the Fornax Cluster of Galaxies . The distance is about 60 million light-years and the recession velocity has been measured as 1632 km/sec.

A massive straight bar runs through this galaxy and contains the nucleus at the center. It consists mostly of older stars that give a reddish color to the bar.

The gravitational perturbation from the bar causes interstellar gas and dust clouds to form a pair of spiral arms that extend from the ends of the bar. Young luminous hot stars, born out of the interstellar clouds, give these arms a prominent appearance and a blue color.

The bar and spiral pattern rotates clockwise, as seen from us. One full turn takes about 350 million years.

Various images of NGC 1365 have recently been obtained with the three instruments, FORS1, the Test Camera (TC), and ISAAC, now installed at the VLT UT1. They show the intricate structure of this magnificent galaxy, also in the innermost region, close to the center.

This is a true-color image of the major part of NGC 1365, combined from three exposures with the FORS1 multi-mode instrument at VLT UT1, in the B (blue), V (green) and R (red) optical bands. The exposure times were 360, 180 and 140 seconds, respectively. The image quality is about 0.8 arcsec. The field measures about 7 x 7 arcmin 2. North is up and East is left.