This spiral galaxy has been a hot spot for supernova. Until very recently, more supernova had been discovered in this galaxy than in any other- a total of six in the past eighty five years and more will probably be discovered over time. This is ten times the rate predicted by theory. M83 was first seen about 250 years ago and is located in the southern constellation of Hydra. It is relatively close to our galaxy, the Milky Way, and is part of a group of thirteen or more island universes that include the mysterious Centaurus A.

The light used to create this picture is extremely ancient so the view seen here is not as it actually appears today in real time. Because of its great distance, light departing M83 five minutes from now will not reach Earth until fifteen million years in the future. Or, to put it another way, M83 is fifteen million light years from Earth.

M83 is also known as the Southern Pinwheel because of the three principal spiral arms that wind about the galaxy's center.

Look closely, and you will also see one or two arm framents extending downward and a kink in one arm that is gravationally interacting with fainter material outside the main galaxy. Each arm is actually a wave of denser material and the size of each wave is partially due to the gravational interaction of the other galaxies in M83's group. The crest of each wave appears brighter than the trough. The waves in this galaxy are enormous.

The central region is elongated and forms a shape that is referred to as a bar. Our galaxy is also a barred spiral like M83. The blue hues in the spiral arms are colored by millions of bright, young massive stars and the dark tendrils extending across this galaxy's face like a web are made of dust remnants from earlier star generations that exploded or shed their outer layers. The spaces between the arms are also filled with stars but these are dimmer and shine with a reddened light.