Comet C/2019 Y4 Atlas: multiple fragments recorded – 11 Apr. 2020

After our observations suggesting the presence of fragments in the inner coma of this comet, we imaged C/2014 Y4 Atlas every night. In particular, tonight we observed at least three fragments, telling the comet really experienced a breakup event. Here it is our image.

C/2019 Y4 Atlas and its fragments. 11 Apr. 2020

C/2019 Y4 Atlas and its fragments. 11 Apr. 2020

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The image above comes from the average of 63, 60-seconds exposures, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. The telescope tracked the apparent motion of the comet and images were stacked using the orbit of the comet, to provide the best accuracy. Image scale is 0.63″/pixel. No image processing was performed, to preserve the reliability of the visible features. The signal-to-noise ratio is quite good, so it is possible to do, carefully, some digital enhancements.

In the upper left insert, you can see the central region, this time after applying an unsharp masking filtering: there are at least four fragments there, telling us the comet broke up for sure, this causing the evident fading trend of the object.

Below, our previously released image, made using a subset of available images:

C/2019 Y4 Atlas and its fragments. 11 Apr. 2020

C/2019 Y4 Atlas and its fragments. 11 Apr. 2020

In the upper left insert, we present a 2x re-scaled detail, processed via unsharp masking. In short: the same situation as in the first image, which is of course better, using more sub-frames: consider it as your reference image.

We have much more data from all the past nights and we are processing them, to provide a detailed analysis, but we wanted to share right away this latest, amazing view of comet C/2019 Y4 Atlas. Here you can find all our observations of this comet.

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