They may lack the stunning shapes and complexity of spiral galaxies, but elliptical galaxies, such as NGC 4660 above, are themselves quite beautiful.
Elliptical galaxies are believed to be the most common type of galaxy in the universe, with an estimated 60% of all galaxies being elliptical. Ellipticals come in a variety of sizes. The largest and smallest known galaxies in the universe are elliptical galaxies. Elliptical galaxies are also sometimes referred to as the retirement homes of the cosmos. The reason for this is that they are composed almost entirely of old stars, with little to no younger ones. Strangely, they also contain little to no star-forming material.
Things, however, were not always this way. With telescopes like Hubble, scientists are able to look deep into the universe. The farther an object the longer it takes for that objects light to reach us. Thus every time scientists peer deep into the universe they are actually looking back in time. Objects are seen as they were, not as they are.
In the earlier universe, objects were closer together because the universe gets larger over time, so in the past it was much smaller. The early universe contains very little elliptical galaxies and much more spiral galaxies, yet today we observe the opposite. Computer models have shown that when multiple spiral galaxies collide, they can form a single elliptical galaxy. This theory can explain why there are more elliptical galaxies today than in the early universe. After all, the early universe was much smaller and thus collisions between galaxies were much more common. Yet this isn't the only aspect of elliptical galaxies it can explain. The collision theory also explains the complete lack of star-forming material present in ellipticals. During a typical galactic collision, it's extremely unlikely that any stars will actually collide due to the vast distances between them. However, gas clouds do often collide and in doing so create regions of intense star formation. Star formation in the colliding galaxies accelerates, until, after the galaxies have merged, there is little to no star-forming material left.
Image credit: NASA/ESA