Hubble has captured the destruction of the comet
Comet C / 2019 Y4 (ATLAS), discovered only in December last year, has already ceased to exist. Before it reached earth's orbit, it shattered into fragments. According to the image taken with the Hubble telescope, we are talking about 25-30 fragments that continue to fly inside the Solar system as a single cluster.
"During the two days of observations, their appearance changed so significantly that it is even difficult to make a connection between the fragments of the comet. The reason for this may be the fragments themselves, which reflect sunlight, and therefore twinkle like the lights of a Christmas tree, " explained astronomer David Jewitt from the University of California.
As the comet approaches the star, it heats up and begins to release gas and lose some of its substance — hence the famous "tail" of any comet. But the gas that leaves it acts as a jet stream, which causes the comet to spin around its axis. If this rotation becomes fast enough, the centripetal forces will exceed the maximum core strength, and the comet will begin to split and eventually break apart.
Currently, fragments of the comet are in the orbit of Mars, and by may 23, at the current speed, it will enter the Earth's orbit. On May 31, it will pass perigee and gradually get lost in the depths of the Solar system. The orbit of these fragments will be approximately 6000 earth years, so we will not see them again.