The recently discovered comet C / 2019 Y4 (ATLAS) decayed – at least four fragments were observed on Saturday and Sunday, April 11 and 12, 2020.
The atlas was discovered on December 28, 2019 in the constellation Ursa Major. Over the next few months, ATLAS flew at an unprecedented speed and is expected to be visible to the naked eye and will show an impressive show by the end of May if it survives during its journey to the sun and does not change flight direction …
If it changes, then the “show” can be felt by all the inhabitants of the Earth.
In early April, observers in China reported the first signs of its collapse. Its condensed core or pseudo-core looked elongated – behavior consistent with core destruction.
Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi from the virtual telescope project then confirmed the decay of the nucleus on April 11th, saying: “Comet C / 2019 Y4 (ATLAS), the one we hoped to see on a big show, broke both him and our hearts.”
“Its core disintegrated, and on Saturday night I saw three, perhaps four main fragments.”
“The image above comes from an average of 63, 60-second exposures remotely shot with the Elena installation (PlaneWave 17” + Paramount ME + SBIG STL-6303E), available on a virtual telescope, ”Masi said.
The central area in the upper left corner of the insert shows at least four fragments — this indicates that the comet has actually decayed.
“In the upper left inset, we present a 2x-scaled part processed using unsharp masking. In short: the same situation as in the first image, which, of course, is better using more subframes: consider it your reference image.”
In the update on Sunday, April 12, Masi was able to clearly detect the comet, with significant changes in the distribution of brightness.
The telescope tracked the comet’s apparent movement, and the images were stacked using its orbit for better accuracy. There was no image processing to ensure the reliability of visible objects.
“The signal-to-noise ratio is quite good, so some digital improvements can be made carefully,” he also wrote.
In the upper left inset, the central region shows that there are certainly three, probably four fragments, like what was observed the day before.
In this subsequent, the westernmost fragment is now the brightest when it looked the weakest on Saturday, “while the general aspect of the group has changed in terms of expansion of components.”
It is known that comets are unstable and difficult to predict. As you approach the Sun, heat and radiation can cause serious damage to a space object.
“The worst part about comets is that we often don’t know exactly what they do or why they do it,” astrophysicist Karl Battems said, from NASA’s Naval Research Laboratory.