JERRY LODRIGUSS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JERRY LODRIGUSS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Spiral galaxy M83. Optical image of the spiral galaxy M83 (NGC 5236), also called the Southern Pinwheel. This galaxy lies in the constellation of 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 hundreds of billions of stars. 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. A galaxy consists of millions, usually billions, of stars orbiting a common centre of gravity. There are 100s of billions of galaxies in the universe.
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