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06.29.10

About the Color Mapping Table

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, like many other astronomical observatories, observes light that falls far outside the visible spectrum accessible to our own eyes. 

To turn this data into something we can actually see, each observation must be mapped to a color of visible light, and together they combine to produce a color image. These colors represent real variations in light, but they are stand-ins for the actual colors that we could not see ourselves.

The Color Mapping table explains how the various observations at different wavelengths of light are assigned to colors within the image. 

"Band" identifies the overall part of the spectrum of the observation. The color of the word indicates into what color the observation has been rendered in the final image.

"Wavelength" specifies the exact wavelength of light of the observation. Units are in microns for infrared light, nanometers for optical (visible) and ultraviolet light, and electron volts for x-ray light.

"Telescope" indicates which observatory made the observation. When available, the specific instrument follows the observatory name.

This table can help you understand how colors represent different phenomena in the different astronomical images found in the Spitzer gallery.