Photo Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA

This is a close up of NGC 253 – also known as the Sculptor Galaxy, or the Silver Coin Galaxy – the brightest and largest member of the Sculptor Group (a galaxy cluster located within close proximity to our own Local Group). It can be found about 13-million light-years away from Earth and it spans nearly 50,000 light-years across (meaning it’s less than half the size of the Milky Way)

In this image, we are seeing the galaxy nearly edge on. From this vantage point, the galactic center pans right to the outer edge of our picture. We can also see why the galaxy is is classified as a Starburst Galaxy. This specification essentially means that  the galaxy is undergoing an intense period of star formation, which generally results in an increase in the number of supernovae explosions seen within the galaxy. For whatever reason, this isn’t the case with NGC 253. We have only ever observed one supernova (dubbed SN 1940E) in the Sculptor Galaxy, which was noted in November of 1940

NGC 253 is one of the easiest galaxies to observe for amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere and many consider it second only to the Andromeda Galaxy for magnificent viewing.


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