Diffuse nebulae

Diffuse nebulae are extended gas clouds typically composed of hydrogen that have been ionized (emission nebulae) or are illuminated by reflected starlight (reflection nebulae). They are often a site for star formation, sometimes spanning several hundred light years across. Diffuse nebulae can feature both emission and reflection components (not to mention embedded open clusters or overlaid dark nebulae).

Often times the use of a nebula filter can help enhance their appearance. These filters can help block out “unwanted” ambient light (including even artificial skyglow) to increase the contrast of the nebula. Nebula filters (especially narrowband ones) tend to work best on emission nebulae, though some reflection nebulae can receive a noticeable boost from a broadband filter.

M20 (Trifid Nebula)

M20 (Trifid Nebula) features red emission nebulosity contrasted with blue reflection nebulosity, along with distinct dark lanes seeming to cut the nebula’s center into three main lobes     [Source]


Posts on diffuse nebulae:

* Clusters with nebulosity
Extragalactic H-II regions

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