Diffuse fog

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NGC 604 , an emission nebula

Diffuse nebulae are clouds of interstellar matter , i.e. thin and widely dispersed collections of gas and dust . In contrast to the planetary nebulae , diffuse nebulae are irregularly shaped and are not necessarily stimulated by one, but mostly by several stars to shine or reflect . Diffuse nebulae themselves (without their stars) can contain up to 100,000  solar masses of matter .

When diffuse nebulae are large and massive enough, they are often places of star formation and create large star associations or star clusters .

  • Some of these young stars are often very massive and so hot that their high radiation energy can stimulate the surrounding gas in the nebula (mostly hydrogen ) to glow. Such nebulae are called emission nebulae .
  • If the stars are not hot enough, their light is reflected by the surrounding dust and can be observed as a white or blue glowing reflection nebula .

Probably the best known and brightest diffuse nebula is the Orion Nebula ( M  42), an emission nebula.

See also