I think a particle emitter might be a bit heavy-handed for something like this and is somewhat complex for me, I only have a basic understanding of particles and even then it is restricted to game engines.
You could try something simple like having a flat plane and changing the material to be a picture of stars, example picture being this one:
For rendering, I have been using Unreal Engine 4 but I still get some pretty rough renders as I'm still getting the hang of it. Other programs I have used are things like Quixel 3DO and Marmoset Toolbag but these are super pricey and take a little bit to understand, I imagine you would be better off looking up some guides on how to get some good renders from Maya's renderer.
I wonder if I have some examples of my renders though... I'll have to have a look.