Hubble showed clear shots of the collapse of Comet Atlas. The object was supposed to be the brightest in the last 20 years but fell apart on approach to the Sun. This is stated in the work of scientists from the University of Maryland, published on the website of the European Space Agency (ESA).
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. Astronomers already recorded the decay using the SLT (Super-Light Telescope) and LOT (Lulin One-meter Telescope) telescopes, but the resulting images were fuzzy.
Now the ESA has published clear shots of the comet’s decay into parts taken by the Hubble telescope on April 20 and 23. These images are additional evidence that comet fragmentation is likely to be common and may even be the dominant mechanism for the death of solid ice comet nuclei.