The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the clearest images of the ATLAS comet and found it to be destroyed in dozens of pieces, at least the size of a home.
The comet was discovered by the robotic astronomical survey system ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System) in December 2019.
It became incredibly bright by mid-March, with astronomers speculating that it could be one of the brightest comets in decades – but it didn't have to be.
It began to get very dark, leading astronomers to speculate that its icy core would break apart into many different pieces.
The fragmentation of ATLAS was confirmed by amateur astronomer Jose de Queiroz, who on April 11 photographed three pieces of the comet.
The Hubble Space Telescope has provided astronomers with the sharpest view of & # 39; Comet C / 2019 Y4 (ATLAS) breakup. To the left is an image of April 20 with 30 fragments and to & # 39; The right side is a picture of April 23 with another 25 pieces
This graphic shows an asteroid breaking apart. Over millions of years, small rocks hit it, causing it to spin, the spin is odd and it causes the asteroid to collapse. A comet also breaks out from an odd spin – but spinning is caused by ice turning to gas and spraying from the core
There was a lot of speculation in March that this was the & # 39; comet of a generation & # 39; could have been, because it had become incredibly bright.
This was partly thanks to a growing gaseous envelope around a comet that had ballooned to a whopping 447,387 miles in mid-March.
In contrast, the sun has a diameter of 865,370 miles, the diameter of Jupiter is 86,881 miles and the Earth is just 7,917 miles.
Soon, this ATLAS began to get much darker, with speculation mounted that it broke apart.
The new & # 39; Hubble Space Telescope observations of & # 39; a comet set on April 20 and 23 revealed that the fragments were all enveloped in a sunlight floating tail of dust.
These images provide further evidence that comet fragmentation is probably common and perhaps the dominant mechanism by which comets die.
The comet, called C / 2019 Y4 (ATLAS), is filmed (green dot) glittering in & # 39; space by Jamie Cooper in Lincolnshire
& # 39; Their appearance changes substantially between the two days, so much so that it is quite difficult to connect the dots, & # 39; said David Jewitt of UCLA.
Asteroids and comets are & # 39; space rocks & # 39; from different parts of & # 39; space
An asteroid is a large rock of rock left over from collisions like the early solar system.
IN comet is a rock covered with ice, methane and other compounds.
IN meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns.
This waste itself is known as a meteoroid.
If any of this meteoroid makes it to Earth, it's called a meteorite.
Meteors, meteorids and meteorites usually originate from asteroids and comets.
He is the leader of one of two teams that did not portray the condemned comet with Hubble.
& # 39; I don't know if this is because the individual pieces flash on and off as they reflect sunlight, act as flashing lights on a Christmas tree, or because different fragments appear on different days. & # 39;
This type of destructive event does not happen very often, according to Quanzhi Ye of the University of Maryland, who led the other observing team.
& # 39; Most comets that fragment aren't too dim to see. Events on such a scale happen only once or twice in the decades, & # 39; said Ye.
Because comet fragmentation happens rapidly and unpredictably, reliable observations are rare and astronomers are not sure what to do.
One suggestion is that the original nucleus in the center of the comet spins itself into pieces due to jet jets from the changing ice as it arrives at the Sun.
Because this ventilation is probably not evenly distributed over the comet, it improves the breakup.
This beautiful image of Comet C / 2019 Y4 ATLAS was created by Michael Jäger on March 18, 2020 and shows its bright green tint
The green Atlas comet can be seen at the top left of this image taken from a remotely exploited observatory in New Mexico on March 18. Right below are M81 and M82, known as large, gravitational interaction galaxies
& # 39; Further analysis of & # 39; & # 39; Hubble data might indicate whether this mechanism is responsible or not, & # 39; Jewitt said. & # 39; Either way, it's very special to watch Hubble with this dying comet. & # 39;
Hubble's crisp images may provide new clues for the outbreak. The telescope has pieces as small as the size of a house.
Before the breakup, the high core may not have been more than the length of two football fields.
The disintegrating comet ATLAS is currently within the orbit of Mars, at a distance of about 100 million miles from Earth, when the last Hubble observations were taken.
The comet will make its closest approach to Earth on May 23 at a distance of about 71 million miles.
Eight days later, it will rocket to just 22 million miles of sun.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is still operating and has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990
The Hubble Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, through the Kennedy Space Center Discovery spacecraft in Florida.
It is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in 1889 in Missouri.
He is probably most famous for not finding out that the universe is expanding and the rate of it doing so – now made the Hubble constant.
The Hubble Telescope is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889 (image)
Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990 and helped publish more than 15,000 scientific articles.
It orbited the Earth at a speed of about 17,000 km / h (27,300 km / h) in a low earth orbit at a height of about 340 miles in height.
Hubble has the viewing accuracy of .007 arc seconds, which is when a laser beam can shine that's aimed at Franklin D. Roosevelt's head at a dozen about 200 miles (320 km) away.
The Hubble telescope is named after Edwin Hubble who was responsible for the emergence of the Hubble constant and is one of the & # 39; the greatest astronomers of all time
The Hubble primary mirror is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) across and a total of 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long – the length of a large school bus.
The launch and deployment of Hubble in April 1990 marked the most significant advance in astronomy since the Galileo telescope.
Thanks to five service missions and over 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place there was never the same.
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