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Incredible Images Of Emission Nebulae, The "Rainbows" Of Outer Space

Updated December 15, 2017 1.6k votes 128 voters 3.3k views20 items

List RulesVote up each and every nebula that makes you want to hop in a space-jalopy and cruise the universe taking pictures.

The cosmos are full of jaw-dropping wonders and humanity is still in the early stages of discovering all of their beauty. Thanks to modern advances, we're able to see the Hubble telescope photos and other distant images that were previously hidden to the human eye. NASA has captured many cosmic oddities in photographic form but emission nebulae are some of the most gorgeous. An emission nebula consists of ionized gas particles that interact with ultraviolet light from nearby stars, which can make them extremely hot. The charged particles can average around 10,000 degrees Kelvin. These nebulae can also be extremely massive.

There are many different types of nebulae, so how is an emission nebula different from a planetary nebula? The key difference is in how they are formed. Planetary nebulae are made after a star begins to shed gases and dust near the end of it's life. This leads to the beautiful formation, one that often has a smaller white dwarf star at its center. An emission nebula is created when a nearby star ionizes a massive gas cloud and they typically glow red due to the presence of large amounts of hydrogen atoms. There are quite a few emission nebulae floating through our universe including the Trifid Nebula, Thor's Helmet Nebula, and the Rosette Nebula.

NASA has captured some amazing images of these nebulae and the space exploration organization shares those images freely with the world. Prepare to be amazed by some of the universe's most miraculous creations. 

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    Thor's Helmet

    Photo: Jschulman555 / Wikimedia Commons
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  • 2

    Horsehead Nebula (And Reflection Nebula 2023)

    Photo: Ken Crawford / Wikimedia Commons
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    12
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  • 3

    Flaming Star Nebula

    Photo: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona / Wikimedia Commons
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  • 4

    Cat's Paw Nebula

    Photo: ESO/R. Gendler/R.M. Hannahoe / Wikimedia Commons
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    11
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