Nebula and star cluster Gallery:

Please click on the image thumbnails below to view images of emission and reflection nebula.

More information on nebula and star clusters can be found below the gallery table.


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Emission Nebula and Reflection Nebula:

The nebula shown in the images on these pages are vast accumulations of dust and gas within our own Milky Way Galaxy. The two general types of nebula are bright nebula and dark nebula. Dark nebula don't emit or reflect light. Dark nebula are composed of interstellar dust and are seen only because they obscure the light from stars and bright nebula behind them.

Bright nebula either emit or reflect light and are divided into two types based upon how they shine; reflection nebula and emission nebula. Reflection nebula are large areas of interstellar of dust and reflect the light of the stars near then or embedded within them.

Emission nebula are large areas of interstellar hydrogen gas which are caused to glow by the ionizing radiation of nearby stars.

NGC 7000 emission nebula The image to the left is of NGC 7000. NGC 7000 is a classic example of an emission nebula and has the common name of "The North American Nebula" because of its distinct resemblance to the North American continent. Click here or on the image to see a larger image of NGC 7000.

messier 45 A familiar sight in the autumn and winter night sky is the spectacular Messier 45 star cluster, which is also known as "The Pleiades" and as "The Seven Sisters".

Long exposure photography reveals an extensive reflection nebula surrounding Messier 45 which is composed of dust which reflects the light of the blue-white stars of the Messier 45 cluster.

Click here or on the image of Messier 45 to see a larger image. Follow this link for more information on Messier 45: Messier 45

Messier 20 reflection and emission nebula Examples of combination reflection and emission nebula can also be found in the sky. Messier 20, pictured here on the left, is an example of a reflection nebula and an emission nebula.

Click here or on the image to see a larger image of Messier 20. Follow this link for more information on Messier 20: Messier 20

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Dark Nebula:

Horsehead Nebula

The Horsehead Nebula is one of the most recognizable of deep sky objects by virtue of its distinct resemblance to its namesake and is one of the best known examples of a dark nebula. The Horsehead is seen because it is silhouetted against and blocks the very faint glow of IC 434, a reef of tenuous emission nebulosity in the background.

The Horsehead nebula is one of the most difficult of visual objects and requires dark skies and large aperture to view.

Click here or on the image above to see a larger image of the Horsehead Nebula.




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Star Clusters:

Star clusters come in two general varieties; open clusters and globular clusters. Globular clusters are aggregations of many stars in close gravitational association. Globular clusters are spherical in shape and contain 100,000 to 1,000,000 individual stars. Globular clusters orbit in a halo around our Milky Way Galaxy [and other galaxies as well], the source of their origin is not yet fully understood. Open clusters are looser and less uniform associations of stars which are believed to originate in the same general area of space from the same local gas clouds. It is believed that eventually the component stars of open clusters slowly drift apart and disperse.

Messier 44 Messier 44, also known as the Beehive Cluster, is an open cluster of stars that is approximately 580 light years distant. Messier 44 is visible to the unaided eye in the constellation of Cancer. More than 200 of the 350 stars in this area have been confirmed as cluster members. The cluster is best observed using low powered binoculars. Click here or on the image to see a larger image of Messier 44.

Follow this link for more information on the Beehive Cluster: Messier 44

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