Just the smallest visible pieces of disintegrating comet the size of a house
Hubble Captures Comet Breaking
May 1, 2006 11:00 a.m. EST
Shaveta Bansal - All Headline News Contributor
(AHN) - NASA and the European Space agency have released new images from the Hubble Space Telescope showing the dramatic shattering of comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3.
The comet's nucleus has shattered into more than 33 pieces, and is likely to continue to disintegrate.
Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 goes around the sun every 5.4 years, and is on course to make the closest approach of this orbit on June 7. Along the way, it will pass 7.27 million miles (11.7 million kilometers) from Earth on May 12.
No piece is projected to hit Earth.
Astronomers say the smallest pieces of comet visible in the Hubble images are probably the size of a house.
The comet was discovered by German astronomers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Arthur Wachmann in 1930. Astronomers observed its initial breakup into four pieces in 1995.
According to scientists, Comets, are "dirty snowballs," chunks of ice and rock left over from the formation of the solar system, which heat up when get close to sun. Trapped gases inside the nucleus expand and sometimes explode out.