It is built from thousands of individual images acquired by two UK-developed telescopes operating in Hawaii and in Chile.
Archived data from the project, known as the Vista Data Flow System, will be mined by astronomers to make new discoveries about the local cosmos.
But more simply, it represents a fabulous portrait of the night sky.
“There are about one billion stars in there – this is more than has been in any other image produced by surveys,” said Dr Nick Cross from the University of Edinburgh.
“When it was first produced, I played with it for hours; it’s just stunning,” he told BBC News.