NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Spiral galaxy M83. Optical image of the spiral galaxy M83 (NGC 5236). This galaxy lies in the constellation Hydra. It is thought to be around 15 million light years from Earth, and similar to our own galaxy in size. It is some 110,000 light years across, with a mass around 100 billion times that of the Sun. The galaxy is known for its frequent supernovae. A supernova is a vast explosion which signals the end of a star's life. In M83 there is a supernova every 10-15 years, about three times more often than in our galaxy.
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