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Spitzer California Nebula Mosaic Callout

This image shows the section of the nebula captured by Spitzer in the context of a larger, visible-light image of the nebula.

This series of image taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope on Jan. 25, 2020, shows part of the California Nebula, which is located about 1,000 light-years from Earth. This is the final mosaic taken by the mission before it was decommissioned on Jan. 30, 2020.

Spitzer's infrared detectors reveal the presence of warm dust, similar to soot, mixed in with the gas. The dust absorbs visible and ultraviolet light from nearby stars and then re-emits the absorbed energy as infrared light.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, also in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.