“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light…. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”
-Genesis 1:1-3, 31
This photo from the new Dark Energy Camera, taken in September 2012, shows the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1365, in the Fornax cluster of galaxies, which lies about 60 million light years from Earth.
The core is an oval shape. The spiral arms extend in a wide curve north and south from the ends of the east-west bar and form an almost ring like Z-shaped halo. Closer to the center there is also a second spiral structure and the whole galaxy is laced with delicate dust lanes.
Many huge young star clusters trace out the main spiral arms and each contains hundreds or thousands of bright young stars that are less than ten million years old. The galaxy is too remote for single stars to be seen in this image and most of the tiny clumps visible in the picture are really star clusters. Over the whole galaxy, stars are forming at a rate of about three times the mass of our Sun per year.
At the very center of the galaxy, astronomers have found evidence for the presence of a super-massive black hole, well hidden among myriads of intensely bright new stars.
NGC 1365, including its two huge outer spiral arms, spreads over around 200,000 light-years. Different parts of the galaxy take different times to make a full rotation around the core of the galaxy, with the outer parts of the bar completing one circuit in about 350 million years. NGC 1365 and other galaxies of its type have come to more prominence in recent years with new observations indicating that the Milky Way could also be a barred spiral galaxy.