The Sculptor Galaxy, also known as NGC 253 or the Silver Dollar Galaxy, is one of the brightest galaxies visible in the night sky and is located 13 million lightyears away.
It is a spiral galaxy that can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere sky in the Sculptor constellation and was discovered by astronomer Caroline Herschel in 1783.
It is part of the Sculptor Group – a group of galaxies similar to the Local Group, in which our own galaxy the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Triangulum Galaxy reside – and is its brightest member.
NGC 253 – Starburst Galaxy in Sculptor Terry Robison (Canada). Category: Galaxies. Equipment: RCOS 10″ telescope at f/9.1, AstroPhysics AP-900 mount, SBIG STL-11000 camera, L-RGB-Ha composite, 34 hours total exposure
The Sculptor Galaxy is so bright because it’s what’s known as a ‘starburst galaxy’, meaning it is undergoing very high rates of star formation.
While the Sculptor Galaxy appears slightly edge-on as seen from Earth, it is not quite as edge-on as the Needle Galaxy or NGC 891, for example, and its spiral structure is certainly visible in astrophotos.
The galaxy’s thick dust lanes are clearly visible too. This is an incredibly dusty galaxy, and this abundance of cosmic dust feeds the high rates of star formation that give the Sculptor Galaxy is starburst status.
Below is a selection of images of the Sculptor Galaxy captured by BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers and astrophotographers.
For more on photographing galaxies, read our guide to deep-sky astrophotography or discover our pick of the best astrophotography cameras.
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The Sculptor Galaxy, Bernard Miller, Martin Pugh, Yass, New South Wales, Australia, 12 November 2018. Equipment: Planewave CDK-17 Dall-Kirkham reflector, Paramount ME mount, SBIG STXL-11002 camera.
Silver Dollar Galaxy by Ron Brecher, NSW, Australia. Equipment: SBIG ST-6303E camera, Astrodon Gen2 LRGB filters, Custom-built 150mm f/11.1 refractor, Paramount ME. All pre-processing and processing in PixInsight.
The Sculptor Galaxy by Scott Phillips, Tenerife. Equipment: Bradford Robotic Telescope.
NGC 253 Sculptor Galaxy by Thomas Bishton, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: ED120 Refractor, AZEQ6 Mount, Canon 600D modded, ST80 Guidescope, Synguider
NGC 253 (Sculptor) by David Attié, Abu Dhabi. Equipment: C11 XLT Fastar, focal reducer 0,63x, CCD Moravian G2-4000 (internal filter wheel), Skyméca Off Axis Guider Skytrack, LodestarX2, Az-Eq6, Baader LRGB filters.
NGC 253 Sculptor Work by Maicon Germiniani, Serra Alta, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Equipment: TS 115/800, ZWO ASI 1600 Mono Cooled, LRGB OPTOLONG 31mm Unmounted.