Like a zombie, the Milky Way galaxy may already be dead but it still keeps going. Our galactic neighbor Andromeda almost certainly expired a few billion years ago, but only recently started showing outward signs of its demise.
Galaxies seem to be able to “perish” – that is, stop turning gas into new stars – via two very different pathways, driven by very different processes. Galaxies like the Milky Way and Andromeda do so very, very slowly over billions of years.
How and why galaxies “quench” their star formation and change their morphology, or shape, is one of the big questions in extragalactic astrophysics. We may now be on the brink of being able to piece together how it happens. And part of the thanks goes to citizen scientists who combed through millions of galactic images to classify what’s out there.