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An emission nebula is a cloud of ionized gas. The most common source for ionizations are high energy photons emitted from a nearby star. These can be among some of the most colorful objects in the sky.

Reflection Nebulae are clouds of dust which are simply reflecting the light of a nearby star or stars. The nearby star or stars are not hot enough to cause ionization in the gas of the nebula like in emission nebulae but are bright enough to give sufficient scattering to make the dust visible.

Besides the luminous bright nebulae, there are dark or absorption nebulae which can be seen because they obscure, or absorb, the light coming from stars or bright nebulae behind them. A famous example is the Horsehead Nebula.

LDN 1622 and 1621 in Orion

LDN 1622 and 1621 in Orion

M78 in Orion

M78 in Orion

IC 59 and IC 63 (Sh2-185) - Gamma Cassiopeiae Nebula

IC 59 and IC 63 (Sh2-185) - Gamma Cassiopeiae Nebula

IC5146 - Cocoon Nebula in Cygnus

IC5146 - Cocoon Nebula in Cygnus

NGC 7129 - Star Forming Region in Cepheus - Close View

NGC 7129 - Star Forming Region in Cepheus - Close View

NGC 7129 and Open Cluster NGC 7142

NGC 7129 and Open Cluster NGC 7142

van den Bergh 152 in Cepheus

van den Bergh 152 in Cepheus

Cederblad 201 Fine Detail

Cederblad 201 Fine Detail

Sh2-155 - Cave Nebula in Cepheus

Sh2-155 - Cave Nebula in Cepheus

NGC 6888 - Crescent Nebula In Cygnus

NGC 6888 - Crescent Nebula In Cygnus

IC1396 - Elephant Trunk Nebula and Region in Cepheus

IC1396 - Elephant Trunk Nebula and Region in Cepheus

van den Bergh 142 - Elephant Trunk Nebula - Close Crop

van den Bergh 142 - Elephant Trunk Nebula - Close Crop

LBN 487 and NGC 7023 - "Iris Nebula" in Cepheus

LBN 487 and NGC 7023 - "Iris Nebula" in Cepheus

M17 - The "Swan Nebula" in Sagittarius

M17 - The "Swan Nebula" in Sagittarius

NGC 2264 Region (Sh2-273) in Monoceros

NGC 2264 Region (Sh2-273) in Monoceros

LBN 667 in Cassiopeia - Eastern Half

LBN 667 in Cassiopeia - Eastern Half

Core of the "Heart Nebula" - Melotte 15 in IC 1805

Core of the "Heart Nebula" - Melotte 15 in IC 1805

IC 405 - The "Flaming Star Nebula"

IC 405 - The "Flaming Star Nebula"

NGC 7635 "Bubble Nebula" and M52 in Cassiopeia

NGC 7635 "Bubble Nebula" and M52 in Cassiopeia

NGC 1333 in Perseus

NGC 1333 in Perseus