- A type of nebula that shines by emitting light when electrons recombine with protons to form hydrogen atoms. The electron frequently approaches the proton in steps emitting energy as light as it gets pulled in. In one of the most common "steps," the recombining electron emits a photon of red light. Since many atoms in the nebula do this all at once, the nebula appears red in colour. This type of nebula is created when energetic ultraviolet light from a hot star shines on a cloud of hydrogen gas, stripping away electrons from the atoms (ionisation). The free electrons can then begin the process of recombination.