NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope has captured one of the sharpest, most detailed observations of a comet breaking apart, which occurred 67 million miles from Earth. In a series of images Hubble showed 25 building-size blocks made of a mixture of ice and dust that are drifting away from the comet at a leisurely pace, about the walking speed of an adult.
While talking about this study, lead researcher from University of California at Los Angeles, David Jewitt said, “We know that comets sometimes disintegrate, but we don’t know much about why or how they come apart. The trouble is that it happens quickly and without warning, and so we don’t have much chance to get useful data. With Hubble’s fantastic resolution, not only do we see really tiny, faint bits of the comet, but we can watch them change from day to day. And that has allowed us to make the best measurements ever obtained on such an object.”
Comet 332P was discovered in November 2010, after it surged in brightness and was spotted by two Japanese amateur astronomers, Kaoru Ikeya and Shigeki Murakami.