'Tis the season for some beautiful imagery of space.
Just days after NASA released this composite image of Earth at night, called the Black Marble, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has captured the Carina Nebula.
The Carina Nebula has been captured before by Hubble, though the ESO's telescope is the largest in the world exclusively designed to watch the sky at visible wavelengths.
Located 7500 light years from Earth, thanks to the VLT Survey Telescope you can now see the Nebula in all its glory. The telescope is in Chile and its camera consists of 32 CCD sensors. When their powers combine, they can create a whopping 268-megapixel image. Chile's President, Sebastián Piñera, had the honour of pressing the shutter button for just one of the snaps that you see in the finished image. The full-size original is nearly 700MB to download, and at 17,383x18,656 pixels, it makes an excellent wallpaper for the discerning space-lover.
While the image above was taken in June 2012, it was released earlier this month to celebrate the telescope's inauguration in Naples. To see the context in which the Carina Nebula is placed, the video below zooms in on the nursery for your viewing pleasure.