ATLAS will be the brightest comet in two centuries of observation. It is approaching the Earth and will pass the perihelion on May 31 and will be located at a distance of 37.8 million km from the Sun.
Comet ATLAS is moving toward the inside of the solar system and will soon become the brightest comet that researchers have seen in two decades.
The comet, also known as C / 2019 Y4, was discovered by astronomers Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) in December 2019. At that moment, it was difficult to detect – she was very dull. But at the same time, only a month later its brightness increased by 4 thousand times. This is much faster than scientists assumed, the celestial body can be seen from the Earth with the help of simple telescopes in May.
The researchers explained that as the comet approaches the Sun, it will repel the portion of the ice that makes up the core of the object. If the comet keeps its shape while continuing to heat up, ATLAS will become the most visible object in the night sky, along with the Moon. The comet, which is now near the orbit of Mars, follows the path of one of the great comets in history – the Great Comet of 1844. She was visible to the naked eye for 290 days.
The comet should make the closest approach to the Earth on May 23, and the closest approach to the Sun on May 31. From May 1, the comet can become bright enough to be seen with the naked eye if it does not collapse before that.