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HubbleSite Hubble Discovers Missing Pieces of Comet Linear

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Space Telescope Science

To the surprise and delight of astronomers, the Hubble telescope discovered a small armada of "mini-comets" left behind from what some scientists had prematurely thought was a total disintegration of the explosive Comet LINEAR. In one observation, Hubble's powerful vision has settled the fate of the mysteriously vanished solid nucleus of Comet LINEAR, which was reported "missing in action" following its passage around the Sun on July 26. Though comets have been known to break apart and vanish before, for the first time astronomers are getting a close-up view of the dismantling of a comet's nucleus due to warming by the Sun. The results support the popular theory that comet nuclei are really made up of a cluster of smaller icy bodies called "cometesimals."

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