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The parent cell divides to form two daughter cells through binary fission. There is a single bacterial cell which divides after every 20 minutes through binary fission. The bacterial cell divides for three hours, in which there are 180 minutes. The bacterial cell divides (180/20= 9) 9 times in 3 hours. So, the total number of bacteria formed after 3 hours are 29= 512 cells.

Thus, the correct answer is option C.

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