Life and death in the far reaches of the galaxy

There’s a whole lot happening beyond the confines of this ball of rock we call home. Compared to us – even compared to our species – stars live a long time. But even stars die eventually, collapsing into pulsating red giants and shedding stellar mass before finally collapsing in on themselves. And if you zoom out another level, you find that galaxies like our own have acted as cannibals in the distant past, subsuming and assimilating huge swathes of other smaller galaxies and clusters. As above, so below, eh?