Space enthusiasts have been monitoring the trajectory of Comet ATLAS this year as it traveled through the Solar System. The space rock, also known as C/2019 Y4, was found by the ATLAS telescope array system on March 5th of 2019, and stunned researchers as it was traveling directly towards the Sun.
A Comet Within a Comet
However, now, astronomers suggest that a new comet has formed from the debris of the collapsing cosmic body, which they described as a ‘comet within a comet.’ That is because a tail of gas has been spotted appearing from one of the pieces, caused by solar heating.
Website Space Weather said: “Comet ATLAS (C/2019 Y4) continues to amaze. First, in March, it was supposed to become as bright as Venus. Then, in April, it fell apart. Now, in May, it seems to have become a ‘comet within a comet.’ This new image from Michael Jäger of Jauerling, Austria, shows a mini-comet with a distinct tail inside the larger envelope of ATLAS’s green atmosphere.”
However, powerful solar heating could make the battered core to break apart even more, activating new ‘internal comets,’ the complete bunch of fragments could shatter into a cloud of dust and gas.
Another comet was identified not long ago, Comet SWAN, which is also following a similar path as Comet ATLAS. The newly-detected space rock, also known as C/2020 F8, was spotted on April 11th and is expected to arrive at the orbit of Mercury in late May.