has the potential to show one of the best shows of a melting snowball in years, but there are some early signs that it will disintegrate early and head for a spectacular bubbly instead.
In a note shared about The Astronomer & # 39; s Telegram Monday, astronomers Quanzhi Ye from the University of Maryland and Qicheng Zhang from Caltech report that Comet C / 201
"We report the possible decay of comet C / 2019 Y4 (ATLAS)," they wrote. "Pictures taken on April 5th showed an elongated pseudo-core … as you would expect from a major core disruption."
Or as an astrophysicist Karl Battams from the Naval Research Laboratory and the Sungrazing Comets of NASA The project summarized it on Twitter: "An elongated core is not a good sign."
Atlas is after the sky survey named who first discovered him on December 28th. The comet went through a phase of rapidity The brightening in March excited some observers of the sky, with the hope that it would eventually become as bright as Venus and maybe even be seen in daylight.
But comets are known to be unpredictable. When they approach the sun, the heat and radiation from our star can cause serious damage and promising cosmic ice lumps can be forgotten.
These recent observations suggest that Atlas will be slightly less likely to show his gaseous plumage next month, as hoped, but Battams says it is too early to predict his death.
"The frustrating thing about comets is that we often don't know exactly what they are doing or why they are doing it. There is still a possibility that Comet ATLAS will take a breather before another outbreak," he said to Spaceweather .com. "But I wouldn't expect it."