Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

November 2, 1996
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Spiral Galaxy NGC 253 Almost Sideways
Anglo-Australian Telescope photograph by David Malin
Copyright: Anglo-Australian Telescope Board

Explanation: NGC 253 is a normal spiral galaxy seen here almost sideways. It is the largest member of the Sculptor Group of Galaxies, the nearest group to our own Local Group of Galaxies. NGC 253 appears visually as one of the brightest spirals on the sky, and is easily visible in southern hemisphere with a good pair of binoculars. The type "Sc" galaxy is about 10 million light years distant. NGC 253 is considered a "starburst" galaxy because of high star formation rates and dense dust clouds in its nucleus. The energetic nuclear region is seen to glow in X-ray and gamma-ray light.

Tomorrow's picture: Surveyor Night Launch

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