NGC 1365 - A Cosmic Maelstrom in Fornax
This deep image shows the large majestic barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 located in the southern constellation of Fornax at a distance of 56 million light-years. The galaxy is significantly larger than our own Milky Way, with the two main spiral arms spanning up to 200,000 light-years. The symmetrical arms curve around the entire galaxy forming an almost ring-like halo. Together with the prominent central bar the arms outline an elegant Z, making NGC 1365 one of the most striking and beautiful galaxies in the sky.
Bright knots of young star clusters and red emission nebulae dot the entire galaxy, and in the centre dark dust lanes trace around a cosmic maelstrom. The active nucleus of NGC 1365 hosts a supermassive black hole with the mass of approximately 2 million solar masses and rotating near the speed of light.
Visible here in this deep exposure are several faint streams extending out from the main arms, especially along the Western and Southern edge of the galaxy (3 to 6 o'clock position). These may be remnants of mergers with smaller dwarf galaxies or perhaps structures within the spiral arms themselves.
Several supernovae have been recorded in NGC 1365, most recently SN2012fr discovered by Alain Klotz (TAROT La Silla telescope) on 27th October 2012. See my previous image of NGC 1365 with the supernova SN2012fr here
In the background the entire field of view is littered with distant galaxies of various sizes and shapes. Many of these can be seen through the spiral arms and tidal streams of NGC 1365. Even a couple of very distant galaxy clusters can be seen. Many of these background galaxies are so far away that their light is visibly reddened because of the cosmological redshift. Judged by their colour and apparent size the faintest of these remote galaxies lie several billion light-years away.
Date: November 2019 - February 2020
Exposure: LRGB: 1475:300:280:280 mins, total 43 hours 41 mins @ -25C
Telescope: Homebuilt 12.5" f/4 Serrurier Truss Newtonian
Camera: QSI 683wsg with Lodestar guider
Filters: Astrodon LRGB E-Series Gen 2
Taken from my observatory in Auckland, New Zealand