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Nebula vs. Galaxy: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Published on November 29, 2023
A nebula is a vast cloud of gas and dust in space, while a galaxy is a massive system of stars, planetary systems, and interstellar matter.

Key Differences

A nebula is primarily composed of hydrogen, helium, and other ionized gases. However, a galaxy encompasses a much broader range of cosmic elements, including stars, planets, and dark matter.
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023
Nebulae are often the birthplaces of stars and planetary systems. While, galaxies contain multiple star systems, nebulae, and various celestial bodies in a bound system.
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023
The scale of a nebula can be vast, but it is significantly smaller than a galaxy. Whereas, galaxies are among the largest structures in the universe, containing billions of stars.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 29, 2023
Nebulae are often observed as colorful, illuminated clouds in space. Conversely , galaxies appear as distinct, spiral, elliptical, or irregular shaped structures with complex compositions.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 29, 2023
The Orion Nebula is a famous example of a star-forming nebula. The Milky Way is an example of a spiral galaxy, our cosmic home.
Janet White
Nov 29, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Composition

Gas and dust
Stars, planetary systems, interstellar matter
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

Function

Often star-forming regions
Encompasses star systems, nebulae, etc.
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

Scale

Large, but smaller than galaxies
Among the largest structures in the universe
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

Appearance

Colorful, illuminated clouds
Spiral, elliptical, or irregular shapes
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

Examples

Orion Nebula
Milky Way
Aimie Carlson
Nov 29, 2023
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Nebula and Galaxy Definitions

Nebula

A cloud of gas and dust in space.
The Hubble Telescope captured stunning images of the Eagle Nebula.
Harlon Moss
Nov 17, 2023

Galaxy

A massive system of stars, stellar remnants, and interstellar medium.
Our solar system is part of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Nebula

Can be remnants of a supernova explosion.
The Crab Nebula is the result of a supernova observed in 1054.
Janet White
Nov 17, 2023

Galaxy

Encompasses dark matter and dark energy.
Studies of galaxy rotation speeds indicate the presence of dark matter.
Harlon Moss
Nov 17, 2023

Nebula

Often a region where new stars are born.
The Orion Nebula is known for its star-forming activities.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 17, 2023

Galaxy

Contains billions of stars, bound together by gravity.
The Andromeda Galaxy is on a collision course with the Milky Way.
Janet White
Nov 17, 2023

Nebula

Visible as luminous clouds in the night sky.
Astronomers studied the colorful gases of the Lagoon Nebula.
Harlon Moss
Nov 17, 2023

Galaxy

Hosts various celestial bodies, including planets and nebulae.
The Sombrero Galaxy is famous for its bright nucleus and large dust lanes.
Harlon Moss
Nov 17, 2023

Nebula

Contains mostly hydrogen and helium.
The Rosette Nebula is rich in hydrogen, giving it a red glow.
Sara Rehman
Nov 17, 2023

Galaxy

Can have different shapes, like spiral, elliptical, or irregular.
The Whirlpool Galaxy is known for its distinct spiral arms.
Harlon Moss
Nov 17, 2023

Nebula

A diffuse cloud of interstellar dust or gas or both, visible as luminous patches or areas of darkness depending on the way the mass absorbs or reflects incident light or emits its own light.
Sara Rehman
Nov 16, 2023

Galaxy

Any of numerous large-scale aggregates of stars, gas, and dust that constitute the universe, containing an average of 100 billion (1011) solar masses and ranging in diameter from 1,500 to 300,000 light-years.
Sara Rehman
Nov 16, 2023

Nebula

A galaxy. No longer in technical use.
Sara Rehman
Nov 16, 2023

Galaxy

Often Galaxy The Milky Way.
Sara Rehman
Nov 16, 2023

Nebula

A cloudy spot on the cornea.
Sara Rehman
Nov 16, 2023

Galaxy

An assembly of brilliant, glamorous, or distinguished persons or things
A galaxy of theatrical performers.
Sara Rehman
Nov 16, 2023

FAQs

What is a nebula?

A cloud of gas and dust in space.
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

Can nebulae vary in size?

Yes, they range from small to incredibly vast.
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

How are stars formed in nebulae?

From the gravitational collapse of gas and dust.
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

Are nebulae part of galaxies?

Yes, they are components within galaxies.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 29, 2023

How big can a galaxy be?

They vary, but some span over 100,000 light-years.
Janet White
Nov 29, 2023

How many galaxies are in the universe?

Billions, each with billions of stars.
Janet White
Nov 29, 2023

Are nebulae always visible to the naked eye?

Not always; many require telescopes.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 29, 2023

What causes the colors in a nebula?

The ionization of gases and presence of dust.
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

What is a galaxy?

A massive system containing stars, planets, and other celestial matter.
Harlon Moss
Nov 29, 2023

Is the Milky Way a typical galaxy?

Yes, it's a spiral galaxy, a common type.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 29, 2023

How are galaxies formed?

From the gravitational attraction of matter in the early universe.
Janet White
Nov 29, 2023

Do all nebulae form stars?

Many do, but not all.
Harlon Moss
Nov 29, 2023

What are the types of galaxies?

Mainly spiral, elliptical, and irregular.
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

How long do nebulae last?

They can exist for millions of years.
Harlon Moss
Nov 29, 2023

Do galaxies have a lifespan?

They evolve and can merge, but don't have a fixed lifespan.
Janet White
Nov 29, 2023

Do nebulae move?

They drift and evolve slowly over time.
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

What is the role of dark matter in galaxies?

It provides additional gravitational pull.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 29, 2023

What defines the shape of a galaxy?

Gravity, rotation, and historical interactions.
Sara Rehman
Nov 29, 2023

Are there different types of nebulae?

Yes, like emission, reflection, and planetary nebulae.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 29, 2023

Can galaxies collide?

Yes, over long timeframes.
Harlon Moss
Nov 29, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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