NGC 253

NGC 253

NGC 253. The whole galaxy is shown here as observed with the WFI instrument, while the insert shows a close-up of the central parts as observed with the NACO instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope and the ACS on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ESO.

central parts of NGC 253

Close-up of the central regions of NGC 253. The field of view is 15 arcseconds. Credit: ESO.

NGC 253, also known as the Silver Coin Galaxy or the Sculptor Galaxy, is a large, type Sc spiral galaxy, seen nearly edge-on. It is the brightest member of the Sculptor Group of galaxies in the constellation Sculptor and was discovered by Caroline Herschel on Sep. 23, 1783.


NGC 253 is also classified as a starburst galaxy (the nearest one to Earth) because of the high rate of star formation and dense dust clouds in its nucleus. The energetic nuclear region glows brightly at X-ray and gamma-ray wavelengths. The center of the galaxy appears to harbor a twin of our own Milky Way's supermassive black hole.


visual magnitude 7.1
apparent size 25' × 7'
diameter 70,000 light-years
distance 10 million light-years
position R.A. 00h 47.6m,
Dec. -25° 17'