Part of speech: noun
Origin: Latin, mid-17th century
A cloud of gas and dust in outer space, visible in the night sky either as an indistinct bright patch or as a dark silhouette against other luminous matter.
(in general use) any indistinct bright area in the night sky, for example, a distant galaxy.
Examples of Nebula in a sentence
"On a clear night you might be able to see a nebula without the help of a telescope."
"Long before modern science, astronomers have been fascinated by the comets, nebulas, and stars in the night sky."
Popularity Over Time
Before high-powered space telescopes were passing back images of far-away galaxies, astronomers were looking at the bodies visible in the night sky. They gave the word nebula to describe the bright clouds in the sky. We now know that these are patches of gas and dust, and possibly sites of future exploration.
Did you Know?
In addition to its astronomical usage, nebula is a medical term. The Latin word literally means “mist.” Your ophthalmologist, or eye doctor, might diagnose a nebula — a clouded spot on the cornea causing defective vision.