A nebula is a swirling, magical mystery. It’s full of secrets and hidden beauty that you’ll only see if you’re willing to get lost in the darkness with me. There are many types of nebulae, some being: molecular clouds (also known as HII regions because they are mainly hydrogen), dark nebulae, supernova remnants, and planetary nebula. Our galaxy has many different types of these beautiful things that can be found in other galaxies too!
Facts About The Nebulae
- The gases, dust, and complex molecules in nebulae are the building blocks for new stars and planets.
- The stars we see in the sky are constantly changing. As a star nears its death, it sheds gas and dust into space to create beautiful nebulae for us to witness.
- Nebulae are always in motion, but they’re difficult to see because of how far away and slow-moving the dust particles are. The clouds mix into one another creating magnetic fields which can be seen from Earth’s surface as light waves that bounce back off them.
- There are three types of molecular clouds: dark globules, emission nebulae, and reflection nebulae. Emission Nebula’s gas is heated to make it glow while the dust in Reflection Nebulae reflects light from nearby stars.
- The Sun and planets were created in a giant cloud of gas 4.5 billion years ago, which we call the nebula.
- Nebulae are the most interesting structures in our universe. They have been found everywhere, from nearby galaxies to distant ones like those that makeup Andromeda and Triangulum.
Types of Nebulae
There are many different kinds of nebulae, but they all have a common link. Some nebula subtypes are included in other categories such as planetary and supernova remnants.
The most prominent parts of the sky are made up largely of hydrogen and helium, with traces of other gases. These “HII regions” can contain infusions from dust grains in order to form stars. Such areas have been found mostly in a galaxy’s spiral arms where they offer an excellent place for young new stars to be born!
Our solar system was born in such a region more than 4.5 billion years ago and this is where the best-known molecular clouds are at, like Orion Nebula or Eta Carinae Nebula to name just two of them!
It’s always interesting to observe how the stars are formed differently in different types of nebulae. Some dark nebula, like the Coal Sack, obscure nearby stars and maybe forming new ones inside them.
Supernova remnants are finally what’s left of the massive stars that have blown themselves apart at the end of their lives. These expanding clouds of gas and dust with neutron stars or even black holes mark where these final resting places will be found by humanity.
The Crab Nebula is a famous supernova remnant in Taurus that exploded over 1000 years ago. It contains an object called the pulsar, which spins around at such speeds it emits radiation through its poles and continues to exert gravitational force on surrounding matter.
The stars of the night sky are often really just leftovers. Planetary nebulae represent a star like our sun but in its twilight years.
They consist of gas and dust that surround slowly cooling white dwarf stars, which give off an eerie glow as they shrink back into themselves to form what is known as a neutron star or black hole.
Whichever will be their eventual fate depends on how heavy they start out at birth. The best-known planetary nebula is the Ring Nebula in the Lyra constellation.
It was once similar to other planets in this galaxy (though we can never know for sure) before becoming old and blowing away all her outer layers with gentle gusts until nothing remained except for one final burst from inside.
The Orion Nebula is a glimmer of light in the distance, situated at 1,500 miles away from Earth. It’s part of an interstellar cloud that spans many astronomical units and emits this brilliant glow against the backdrop of darkness.
The Orion Nebula is a 24-light year wide section of space that contains hundreds of newborn stars and brown dwarfs. Located just below the three belt stars in Orion, it has a young star cluster called The Trapezium at its heart which houses roughly two million years old youthful hot blue giants burning bright with hydrogen gas as they evolve into red giant suns before dying out.
The Horsehead Nebula is one of the darkest nebulae in our galaxy. This makes it difficult to see, but from a different perspective, this makes for an even more spectacular view once space exploration finally captures what’s behind its dark depths.
As the stars are born in this nebula, they will eat away at their birth cloud. Eventually, a million years or so from now all that is left of it might be torn apart and eaten by these newborns.
The Eagle Nebula, better known as M16 and the “Pillars of Creation,” is a region where star births occur. The stars are eating away at their surroundings inside giant pillars made up of gas and dust that can only be seen by infrared light such as what’s found in NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope when it takes pictures.
Eventually, this nebula will also disappear as radiation from its child stars destroys the gas and dust. This gorgeous region lies some 7,000 light-years away in the Serpens constellation near thousands of stars in between pillars.
It’s a supernova remnant that was created when an 11-times mass of our sun star exploded in what is called a “core-collapse” explosion. The blast sent much of its material to space and left behind just enough for it to become one imploding neutron star, spinning 30 times per second into oblivion as gravity pulls everything inward further with every passing day.
The Crab Nebula Pulsar is a type of neutron star that’s located in the constellation Taurus, and it’s 6.5 thousand light-years away from our planet Earth.
The Eskimo Nebula is a planetary nebula that’s been around for 10,000 years. It formed when the star began exhaling its outer atmosphere and eventually became so faint it was barely visible to telescopes on Earth!
The nebula formed a face-shaped cloud of gas and dust that is slowly dissipating. In about 50,000 years the gases will all have been dispersed into space leaving only a dying star with no light or heat to shed on any planet.