An edge-on spiral galaxy in Sculptor, NGC 253
AAO image reference AAT 23.     « Previous || Next »

An edge-on spiral galaxy in Sculptor, NGC 253, ngc253.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 26 arc min
Image and text © 1980-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory
Photograph by David Malin from plates taken by Ken Freeman.

A mere 10 million light years away, NGC 253 is one of the nearest spiral galaxies, a member of a small group straggling across the southern constellation of Sculptor. It appears elongated because we see it almost edge-on. This galaxy is also one of the dustiest galaxies known and much of its internal detail is hidden by obscuring matter which can be seen as dark patches against the background stars. Despite the obscuration, two spiral arms and many bluish clusters of stars can be seen around the edge of the galaxy. NGC 253 is so close to us that some of the brightest stars are apparent as individuals within the spiral arms.

The galaxy is also much bigger than it appears here. On a very deep image the spiral structure is buried in an almost featureless halo, unremarkable except for the bulge at its southern end, which has no obvious counterpart in the brighter regions of the galaxy

Related Images
n0253_d.  Deep image of NGC 253
Constellation of Sculptor (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1