The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy, NGC 1365
NGC 1365, also known as the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy, is about 56 million light years away, or 330 billion, billion miles in the direction of the southern constellation Fornax the furnace. NGC 1365 is one of my personal favorite objects, perhaps because of both its great beauty and its extreme difficulty to image form the northern hemisphere. This galaxy sits very low in the sky as seen from southeast Texas and never exceeds an altitude of 24 degrees! Consequently, the above resulting image required about 200 separate images, each 10 minutes long, or a total of 33 hours of telescope time. Roughly 2 out of 3 of these images had to be discarded due to atmospheric turbulence caused by the low elevation even on otherwise pristine nights. We classify NGC 1365 as a double-barred spiral galaxy since its main “bar” that connects the outer spiral arms appears to have a second much smaller bar, where it connects to the inner nucleus of the galaxy. The inner bar is visible in this image by clicking and zooming to full screen view. The inner bar is even more visible in infrared images. Of course, like nearly all large galaxies, NGC 1365 has a supermassive black hole at its center. The black hole has the equivalent mass of 2 million suns compressed into an infinitesimally small point. Stars, gas and dust feed the black hole in a star-forming frensy. The entire barred spiral galaxy spans over 200,000 light years (about 1 billion billion miles) and is about twice the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy. NGC 1365 has also been a source of multiple supernovae over the past few decades including one observed in 2012, 2001, 1983, and 1957). Hover over the image with a mouse to highlight three additional much fainter galaxies. More statistics for NGC 1365 are RA: 03h 33m 35.9s, Dec: -36° 08' 16", Mag: 10.3, B-V: +0.69, Size: 11.3'x6.6', Class: SB(s)b, Position Angle: 32.
Optics: RC Optical System 20" F/8.2 (4165.6 mm Focal Length) Date: 2017 - 2020
Camera: SBIG STXL-11000 with Adaptive Optics Location: Columbus, Texas
Exposure: LRGB = 590:100:60:100 minutes Imager: Kent E. Biggs