Release 857 of 1,156

Behind a Dusty Veil Lies a Cradle of Star Birth

Release date: Dec 3, 1998 12:00 AM (EST)
Release type: Hubble Heritage

NGC 253 is a large, almost edge-on spiral galaxy, and is one of the nearest galaxies beyond our local neighborhood of galaxies.

This dramatic galaxy shows complex structures such as clumpy gas clouds, darkened dust lanes, and young, luminous central star clusters. These elements are typical of spiral galaxies. Caroline Herschel discovered NGC 253 in 1783 while looking for comets. The galaxy's closeness to Earth makes it an ideal target for amateur astronomers who can see the southern sky and for astronomers interested in learning more about the makeup of these stunning cities of stars.