Click to view This gorgeous image — which you can bet is beastly in size at full resolution — features the endless parade of faraway stars that occupy our universe. It's the deepest photograph of its kind ever taken from a ground-based telescope, enabling us to see constellations from Earth that are a billion times too faint for us to detect with the naked eye. For 55 hours, astronomers from the European Organization for Astronomical Research (ESO) focused their Very Large Telescope at the sky and developed this rich composite image. In the process, they discovered a plethora of new galaxies — and the trippy thing is, we're seeing them as they were when the universe was a sprightly 2 billion years old.Staring at even a small portion of this image is hypnotic. While it looks like a collection of multicolored dots and tiny UFO-shaped lights, this picture is really showing us what the ESO calls "island universes" — galaxies just like our own Milky Way, with who knows what inside them. To get an idea of just how insignificant we are (you never get tired of that, right?), take a gander at that superbright star in the center of the close-up below. Then shift your eyes to the left, to the smaller light that looks like an upside-down red lightbulb with a neon green base. That's one of the only things in this photo that's in our galaxy, and the reason it looks so funky is because it moved while the Very Large Telescope was capturing its image.

Here's the best part: ESO has a Zoomify setup of the image that you can play with all day. By dinnertime, you'll be more familiar with the Chandra Deep Field South than anyone you know. A Pool of Distant Galaxies: the deepest ultraviolet image of the Universe yet [via ESO]