back to article CSI GALAXY: Cause of death = STRANGULATION

Astroboffins think they have one of the oldest murder mysteries in the universe: what kills galaxies, and how does it happen? A study just published states that the primary cause of galactic death is strangulation – a process in which the galaxies' supply of materials needed to form new stars is choked off. There are at least …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not dead yet

    Maybe star formation is stopped, but most stars are small and have very loooooong lives, often much longer than the current age of the universe.

    So those galaxies aren't dead, they're just resting.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Not dead yet

      often much longer than the current age of the universe

      That's confusing. Perhaps I need more coffee.

      1. Michael Thibault
        Holmes

        Re: Not dead yet

        That's confusing. Fortunately, I need more coffee.

        FTFY

    2. mad physicist Fiona

      Re: Not dead yet

      Maybe star formation is stopped, but most stars are small and have very loooooong lives, often much longer than the current age of the universe.

      It pretty much means the same thing since even the brightest red dwarves are very dim - less than 10% the luminosity of the Sun - we can't see them over intergalactic distances. Bear in mind that even the closest star to us in the night sky is completely invisible to the naked eye and difficult to identify even with a good amateur telescope.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Not dead yet

        "Bear in mind that even the closest star to us in the night sky is completely invisible to the naked eye and difficult to identify even with a good amateur telescope."

        Alpha Centauri is the closest star to us and is the third brightest star in the southern sky. Not invisible to the naked eye!

        1. mad physicist Fiona

          Re: Not dead yet

          Alpha Centauri is the closest star to us and is the third brightest star in the southern sky. Not invisible to the naked eye!

          It's generally (but not universally) accepted that the Alpha Centauri system is the closest to Earth but the nearest known star is Proxima Centauri - the debate is whether it is part of the Alpha Centauri system, not in the distances. At magnitude 11.05 it is also around 100 times too faint to see naked eye.

          1. Eric Olson
            Coat

            Re: Not dead yet

            And here I thought the closest star was visible whenever my part of the earth was facing it.. assuming there weren't any clouds in the way.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not dead yet

              "And here I thought the closest star was visible whenever my part of the earth was facing it.. assuming there weren't any clouds in the way."

              Fiona wrote:

              "Bear in mind that even the closest star to us in the night sky is completely invisible to the naked eye and difficult to identify even with a good amateur telescope."

              The *night* sky. The Earth is not facing the Sun at night.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Who killed them?

    Colonel Mustard, in the Parlor, with the Lead Pipe.

    1. Daniel B.

      Re: Who killed them?

      The BOFH, in the Server Room, with the Cooling Pipe!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who killed them?

      The laws of Physics did, in the Inky Blackness of Space, with Entropy.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Who killed them?

        I blame the baryonic photino birds - ftw!

      2. Archimedes_Circle

        Re: Who killed them?

        Can entropy ever be reversed?

        1. Martin Budden
          Coat

          Re: Who killed them?

          yportne

  3. Little Mouse

    'Ere - he says he's not dead!

    Unable to produce further offspring? That's an interesting definition of "death".

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: 'Ere - he says he's not dead!

      If your body stopped being able to produce new cells, you wouldn't die instantly, but you wouldn't be alive very long either.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: 'Ere - he says he's not dead!

        "If your body stopped being able to produce new cells, you wouldn't die instantly, but you wouldn't be alive very long either."

        It's a horrible way to die. It's called being a walking ghost I think?

        Imagine if all your DNA was removed.

        They think the symptoms might be like these

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acute_radiation_syndrome

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraquat#Toxicity

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destroying_angel#Toxicity

      2. Grikath Silver badge

        Re: 'Ere - he says he's not dead!

        "If your body stopped being able to produce new cells, you wouldn't die instantly, but you wouldn't be alive very long either."

        It's called adulthood, so roughly between 40 and 60 years on average for humans.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'Ere - he says he's not dead!

          Your cells don't stop dividing just because you're an adult. Very roughly there are 37 trillion (million million) cells in adults, and according to Wikipedia, "Between 50 and 70 billion cells die each day due to apoptosis in the average human adult."

          37000000000000 / 60000000000 = 616 days.

          So except for nerve cells, most of your body is less than two years old in terms of new cell division. That's a major reason why we keep changing as we age, alas.

        2. Chris Miller

          @Grikath

          A typical lifespan for a human red blood cell is around 30 days. If you lost the ability to produce new cells, that would be your lifespan too.

          Back on topic, if a galaxy stops producing new stars, it will lose all its bright stars within a few million years and all its main sequence stars within a few billion. After that it will be left with only red dwarfs and be a dim ember of its former self.

          1. keith_w
            Devil

            Re: @Grikath

            According to my Doctor, my blood cells record my level of glucose for 90 days (A1C) which indicates to me that they live about that length of time on average.

  4. Alister Silver badge

    galaxies are being fatally throttled

    I blame the ISPs...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not dead

    Just pining for the Fjords

  6. Jedit
    Coat

    I guess you could call it...

    ... astroerotic asphyxiation.

    <puts on sunglasses>

    YEAAHHHHHH!!!!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not bad, but you're meant to put the sunglasses on *before* you deliver the cheesy punchline. :-)

    (And yeah, I have to admit I was trying to do the same thing, but couldn't come up with anything!)

  8. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    Headmaster

    "Metals"

    Note that this is the astronomers' usage of "metal", meaning anything with an atomic number greater than 2, whether or not it's metallic in the usual sense.

  9. Fink-Nottle
    IT Angle

    Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

    Anyone supplied a Tibetan monastery with an Automatic Sequence Computer lately?

    1. Michael Dunn

      Re: Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

      An upvote from me for the reference to one of my favourite (short) sf stories.

  10. roger stillick
    Happy

    Deus ex Machina ??

    We seem to get a lot of these "ah-ha" momemnents, that, when looked at a second time are simply a plot fix in the unwritten book of everything...

    Simply combine Deus ex Machina with the Anthropic Principle and you get the current 'Big Bang' view of the universe...

    IMHO= the 800 Pound Gorilla in the room is simply= what is Hydrogen, and, how is it apparently being formed ?? Hydrogen or lack of it seems to be the basic problem of everything...

    caveiat= i am a Buddhist techno historian... RS.

    1. Michael Dunn

      Re: Deus ex Machina ??

      Not Hari Seldon, then?

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