Hubble captures the break-up of comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS)

The disintegration of comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) is revealed in sharp detail by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Hubble captures the break-up of comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS). Credit NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA), Q. Ye (University of Maryland)

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the sharpest view captured of the breakup of comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS).

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The comet was set to be a bright object in the night sky during May 2020, but unfortunately for comet chasers it began to disintegrate in April.

The Earth-orbiting telescope was able to capture about 30 fragments of the comet – each roughly the size of a house – on 20 April 2020.

C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) was discovered in December 2019 by the ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System) and its break-up was confirmed in April 2020.

Two other comets will be visible in the night sky this month. Click on these links for guides to spotting Comet C/2020 F8 Swan and C/2017 T2 PanSTARRS.

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Observatory Hubble Space Telescope

Release date 28 April 2020

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Image credit NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA), Q. Ye (University of Maryland)