Astronomers spotted fragments of the collapsed comet ATLAS – an object that was supposed to be the brightest comet in the last 10 years but began to collapse on approach to the Sun. About this writes The Astronomer’s Telegram.
The comet, also known as C/2019 Y4, was discovered by astronomers from the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) in December 2019. At that time, it was a dull object, but after only a month its brightness grew by about 4 thousand times.
The increase in brightness occurred much faster than scientists thought. In this regard, the researchers suggested that C/2019 Y4 will be the brightest comet in the last 20 years. It was planned that the celestial body could be seen from the Earth with the help of simple telescopes in May.
However, in early April, the comet began to fall apart into several parts. Now astronomers using the SLT (Super-Light Telescope) and LOT (Lulin One-meter Telescope) telescopes were able to make out the parts into which it fell apart.
At the time of observation (April 12), two fragments were located at a distance of about 3.4 thousand km and 1.6 thousand km, respectively, from the comet’s nucleus.
These observations are also confirmed by data from other ground-based telescopes. Thus, ATLAS has lost all chances to become the brightest in a decade, astronomers say.