October 23, 2021

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The Comet ATLAS was a cosmic flop last year and scientists may finally know why

3 min read

When scientists first spotted Comet ATLAS last year, they hoped it would be the brightest comet of the decade. Then, the icy hunk unexpectedly fell to pieces.

Now, astronomers think they may have figured out two mysteries surrounding why the comet suffered such an untimely demise. The nucleus, or heart, of Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) broke up between April 20 and April 23, 2020, when the comet was at 91 million miles (146 million kilometers) away from Earth, about the same distance as the sun is. Even more weirdly, not all pieces broke up at the same rate.

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