The near-Sun comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) is the very first participant of a long-period comet team observed to degenerate well prior to its closest method to the Sunlight. Utilizing photos gotten by the NASA/ESA Hubble Room Telescope project, astronomers have actually recognized 2 piece collections created by the comet’s fragmentation in 2020.

This pair of Hubble images of comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS), taken on April 20 and April 23, 2020, reveal the breakup of the solid nucleus of the comet. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Quanzhi Ye, University of Maryland / Alyssa Pagan, STScI.

This set of Hubble photos of comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS), handled April 20 and also April 23, 2020, disclose the break up of the strong center of the comet. Photo credit history: NASA / ESA / Quanzhi Ye, College of Maryland / Alyssa Pagan, STScI.

C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) was a comet with a near-parabolic orbit and also an orbital duration of regarding 6,000 years.

Additionally referred to as comet ATLAS, the item was found on December 28, 2019 by a mirroring telescope atop Mauna Loa in Hawaii as component of the Planet Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS).

At the time of its exploration, the comet had to do with 3 AU from the Sunlight and also shone at size of 19.6 in the constellation of Ursa Major.

In April 2020, it fragmented prior to perihelion, leaving its previous tail tracking with area in the type of slender clouds of dirt and also billed fragments. The fragmentation was observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Room Telescope.

“Comet ATLAS is a broken-off item of a kilometer-wide old site visitor from 5,000 years earlier,” stated Dr. Quanzhi Ye, an astronomer at the College of Maryland.

“Why? Since the comet complies with the very same orbital ‘railway track’ as that of a comet seen in 1844.”

“This implies both comets are possibly brother or sisters from a moms and dad comet that disintegrated several centuries previously.”

The web link in between both comets was very first kept in mind by amateur astronomer Maik Meyer.

“Comet ATLAS is simply ‘unusual.’ Unlike its assumed moms and dad comet, ATLAS broke down while it was further from the Sunlight than Planet, at a range of over 100 million miles,” Dr. Ye stated.

“This was much further than the range where its moms and dad passed the Sunlight. This highlights its unfamiliarity.”

“If it separated this much from the Sunlight, just how did it endure the last flow around the Sunlight 5,000 years earlier? This is the large inquiry.”

“It’s extremely uncommon due to the fact that we wouldn’t anticipate it. This is the very first time a long-period comet relative was seen separating prior to passing closer to the Sunlight.”

According to the group, one piece of comet ATLAS broke down in an issue of days, while an additional item lasted for weeks.

“This informs us that component of the center was more powerful than the various other component,” Dr. Ye stated.

“One opportunity is that banners of expelled product might have rotated up the comet so quick that centrifugal pressures tore it apart.”

“A different description is that it has supposed super-volatile ices that simply blew the item apart like a taking off airborne firework.”

“It is made complex due to the fact that we begin to see these pecking orders and also advancement of comet fragmentation. Comet ATLAS’ habits is intriguing however difficult.”

The group’s paper was released in the Huge Journal.


Quanzhi Ye et alia. 2021. Fragmentation of Long-period Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS). I. Hubble Room Telescope Monitorings. AJ 162, 70; doi: 10.3847/1538-3881/abfec3