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Southern Pinwheel Galaxy

M83, nicknamed the "Southern Pinwheel" galaxy, is one of the closest and brightest spiral galaxies in the sky. It is visible with binoculars in the constellation of Hydra. Although discovered 250 years ago, only much later was it appreciated that M83 was not a nearby gas cloud, but a barred spiral galaxy much like our own Milky Way Galaxy. M83, pictured above in a photograph from a Very Large Telescope, is a prominent member of a group of galaxies that includes Centaurus A and NGC 5253, all of which lie about 15 million light years distant. To date, six supernova explosions have been recorded in M83. An intriguing double circumnuclear ring has been discovered at the center of M83.

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