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Telescope with 268-megapixel camera snaps its first amazing picture of deep space

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Carina Nebula VST
Carina Nebula VST

If you've ever wondered what a 268-megapixel camera is capable of producing when pointed at the outer reaches of space, the European Southern Observatory has you covered. The organization has released the first image taken with its aptly-named Very Large Telescope Survey Telescope (VST), which it claims is the largest such 'scope in the world for surveying our skies in visible light. The VST's primary strength is its incredible, almost unfathomable field of view — "twice as broad as the full Moon," by the ESO's calculations. Whereas other telescopes can often only capture small portions of the sky at any given time, this Very Large Telescope has been primed to photograph massive regions in quick fashion. Key to all of this is that 268-megapixel CCD camera, dubbed OmegaCAM, and developed as part of a concerted effort involving five research institutions.

The subject of the inaugural shot is the Carina Nebula, which as it turns out is a popular target for researchers to set a telescope's sights on. Yet despite our familiarity with the nebula, it still serves as a great subject when it comes to showcasing the VST's far-reaching imaging capabilities. According to the ESO, it will be used in the coming years to survey remote solar system bodies, the milky way, extragalactic planetary nebulae, and other cosmological interests.