Diffuse Nebulae Photo Gallery

A diffuse nebula is an interstellar cloud of dust and gas. The gas consists mostly of hydrogen and helium, but other ionized gasses may be present. Diffuse Nebulae are often associated with star forming regions. The force of gravity collapses the cloud into clumps and knots where densities can grow high enough to initiate nuclear fusion in the cores of new stars. Some of the remaining dust and gas are believed to form planets and solar systems. Newly formed open clusters are also sometimes found still embedded within diffuse nebulae.

Diffuse Nebulae (sometimes called Bright Nebulae) generally cover extended areas and have no well-defined boundaries. They may be sub-divided into either reflection or emmission. Reflection nebulae shine by light reflected from nearby stars. In contrast, emmission nebulae contain ionized gasses that glow at specific spectral frequencies characteristic of the elements contained within. Ionized hydrogen dominates in many emmission nebulae which are referred to as HII regions. They are easily recognized by the red glow due to hydrogen's strongest spectral line.

Dark nebulae do not emit or reflect light. Rather, they are seen in silhouette against a brighter background of stars or diffuse nebulae.

The 18th-century French astronomer Charles Messier recorded 7 diffuse nebulae in his Messier Catalog of deep sky objects. For more information, see the Wikipedia entry about nebulae.

Click on each thumbnail to see a larger image.



Messier Catalog

M8-01
M8
Lagoon Nebula
nebula with cluster

M16-01
M16
Eagle Nebula
nebula with cluster

M17-01
M17
Omega Nebula
cluster & H II region

M20-01
M20
Trifid Nebula
nebula with cluster

M42-01
M42
Great Orion Nebula
diffuse nebula

M43-01
M43
De Mairan's Nebula
diffuse nebula

M78-01
M78

diffuse nebula



Emission Nebulae

IC1805-01
Heart & Soul Nebulae
IC 1805 & IC 1848

IC1805-03
Heart Nebula
IC 1805

IC2177-01
Seagull Nebula
IC 2177

NGC7822-01
NGC 7822
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NGC1499-01
California Nebula
NGC 1499

NGC1499-02
California Nebula
NGC 1499

NGC2237-01
Rosette Nebula
NGC 2237

NGC2237-02
Rosette Nebula
NGC 2237

ORI-101
Orion Complex
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ORI-102
Belt of Orion
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IC434-01
Horsehead Nebula
IC 434

M42-02-TMAP
Great Nebula
in Orion

NGC6242-01
Eagle and Omega
Nebulae

M08M20-01
Lagoon & Trifid
M8 & M20




Reflection Nebulae

M45-01
Pleiades
M45

IC2118-01
Witch Head Nebula
IC 2118

RhoOph-01
Rho Ophiuchi
Cloud Complex - 1

RhoOph-02
Rho Ophiuchi
Cloud Complex - 2



Dark Nebulae

IC434-01
Horsehead Nebula
B 33

Pipe-01
Pipe Nebula
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