Astronomers are using these three Hubble telescope images of nearby galaxies to help tackle the question of why their distant relatives have such odd shapes, appearing markedly different from the typical "ellipticals" and "spirals" seen in the nearby universe. By viewing these galaxies in ultraviolet light, astronomers can compare their shapes with those of their distant relatives. The results of their survey support the idea that astronomers are detecting the "tip of the iceberg" of very distant galaxies. Based on these Hubble ultraviolet images, not all the faraway galaxies necessarily possess intrinsically odd shapes.
NGC 3310, shows young and old stars evenly distributed throughout the central region. If this were the case with most galaxies, astronomers would be able to recognize faraway galaxies fairly easily. In most galaxies, however, the stars are segregated by age, making classifying the distant ones more difficult.
Credit: NASA, Rogier Windhorst (Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ), and the Hubble mid-UV team