Galaxy NGC 278

NGC 278
NGC 278: Image taken with Hubble Space Telescope. © 2163 ESA/Hubble & NASA and S. Smartt [633]


This galaxy was discovered by William Herschel on 11 December 1786 using his 18.7 inch reflector. He cataloged it as I 159 and noted: «Very bright, round, very gradually brighter in the middle, 1.5' diameter.» [464] Dreyer added it as NGC 278 to his «New General Catalogue» published in 1888. [313]

Physical Properties

NGC 278 is a galaxy currently undergoing an immense burst of star formation. But the star forming regions do not extend to the galaxy’s outer edges. It is only taking place within an inner ring some 6500 light-years across. It is thought to have been caused by a merger with a smaller, gas-rich galaxy that ignited only the centre of the galacy and dusty remains dispersed into the outer regions. The distance to NGC 278 is around 40 million light years. [633]

Revised+Historic NGC/IC Version 22/9, © 2022 Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
Designation NGC 278
Type Gx (SBb)
Right Ascension (J2000.0) 00h 52m 04.5s
Declination (J2000.0) +47° 33' 03"
Diameter 2.1 × 2 arcmin
Photographic (blue) magnitude 11.5 mag
Visual magnitude 10.8 mag
Surface brightness 12.2 mag·arcmin-2
Position Angle 12°
Redshift (z) 0.002090
Distance derived from z 8.83 Mpc
Metric Distance 11.800 Mpc
Dreyer Description cB, pL, R, 2 st 10 nr
Identification, Remarks WH I 159; h 71; GC 158; UGC 528; MCG 8-2-16; CGCG 550-16; IRAS 00492+4716

Finder Chart

The galaxy NGC 278 is located in the constellation Cassiopeia. The best observation time is July to January, when this in Europe circumpolar constellation is highest in the sky.

Finder Chart Galaxy NGC 278
Galaxy NGC 278 in constellation Cassiopeia. Charts created using SkySafari 6 Pro and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. Limiting magnitudes: Constellation chart ~6.5 mag, DSS2 close-ups ~20 mag. [149, 160]

Objects Within a Radius of 15°


  • [149] SkySafari 6 Pro, Simulation Curriculum;
  • [160] The STScI Digitized Sky Survey;
  • [277] «Historische Deep-Sky Kataloge» von Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke; (2021-02-17)
  • [313] «A New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars, being the Catalogue of the late Sir John F.W. Herschel, Bart., revised, corrected, and enlarged» Dreyer, J. L. E. (1888); Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society. 49: 1–237; Bibcode:1888MmRAS..49....1D
  • [464] «Catalogue of a second thousand of new nebulae and clusters of stars; with a few introductory remarks on the construction of the heavens» William Herschel, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1 January 1789; DOI:10.1098/rstl.1789.0021
  • [633] Cassiopeia’s unusual resident; (2023-08-29)