A 7-foot telescope at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla location took a photo of the Large Sagittarius Star Cloud in the constellation of Sagittarius.
The cloud is one of the richest star fields in the entire sky, a release from ESO headquarters in Garching, Germany, said Wednesday.
A small, isolated dark area, described as "a drop of ink on the luminous sky" by U.S. astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard, who discovered it in 1913, sits in the middle of the image.
Through a small telescope it looks like a window onto a patch of distant, clearer sky, but the object -- a small, dark nebula known as a Bok globule -- is actually in front of the star field, astronomers said.
The cold, dark, dense cloud made up of small dust grains blocks light from the stars behind it and makes the region appear opaque, they said.