Just like trees, people and stars, galaxies have life cycles. A galaxy is born when enough gas and stars coalesce to form a coherent structure—perhaps it starts as one cloud of gas and slowly gathers mass, or maybe it builds up from the collision of two or more clouds. Either way, once formed, a galaxy spends its lifetime making stars, using its reservoirs of gas to create tiny furnaces where nuclear fusion burns elements to release light and energy. A galaxy deemed “alive” shines strongly in ultraviolet light, a signal of young, bright and hot stars. As those stars age, their light changes from hot and blue to cool and yellow or red. When a galaxy contains mostly yellow and red stars and emits little to no ultraviolet light, we consider it retired, or “red-and-dead.” Eventually, if massive enough, it becomes a spheroidal blob, known as an elliptical galaxy, that will likely never birth a new star again.