Central area of the Milky Way galaxy, released by astronomers at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile. The photo shows 84 million stars in an image measuring 108,500×81,500, which contains nearly 9 billion pixels, and is actually a composite of thousands of individual photographs shot with the observatory's VISTA survey telescope.
Taken by Prosper Henry, 1885. This photograph of the Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra shows but a three-degree section of the firmament, 1,956 light-years from earth. Once a star similar to our own sun, the nebula was formed when the star exploded, releasing gasses from its outer shell into space.