May 19, 2020 - Science

Hubble Space Telescope catches rare glimpse of comet breaking apart

Miriam Kramer, author of Space

Photo: NASA/ESA/D. Jewitt (UCLA)/Q. Ye (University of Maryland)

Comets are fickle cosmic beasts. Many are beautifully bright hundreds of millions of miles from the Sun before breaking apart as they get closer to the star.

What's new: The Hubble Space Telescope caught a rare glimpse as Comet ATLAS broke apart at the end of April.

  • "This is really exciting — both because such events are super cool to watch and because they do not happen very often. Most comets that fragment are too dim to see. Events at such scale only happen once or twice a decade," Quanzhi Ye of the University of Maryland said in a statement.

Why it matters: Some scientists think these comet breakups occur when ices rapidly change from solid to gas form, effectively tearing itself asunder, but without directly watching it happen, it's hard to know exactly why these comets die.

Go deeper: Astronomer captures a brightening comet approaching the Sun

Go deeper

Increased armed presence planned for D.C. tonight

Demonstrators stand around a fire during a protest near the White House in response to the killing of George Floyd. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Government officials say plans are in place for a significantly heavier armed presence on the streets of Washington, D.C. tonight in response to the increasingly violent protests linked to the death of George Floyd.

What we're hearing: "Tonight you will see increased presence, both police...other agencies, and National Guard presence," a source familiar with the government's plans said.

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 6,226,408 — Total deaths: 373,973 — Total recoveries — 2,672,161Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,799,747 — Total deaths: 104,702 — Total recoveries: 444,758 — Total tested: 16,936,891Map.
  3. Public health: Nearly 26,000 coronavirus deaths in nursing homes have been reported to federal health officials —Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country.
  4. Federal government: Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets.
  5. World: Former FDA commissioner says "this is not the time" to cut ties with WHO.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The virus didn't go away.

New York City to impose curfew amid ongoing protests

Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York City will be placed under curfew on Monday from 11pm until 5am Tuesday morning following days of protests over the death of George Floyd, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.

The big picture: Demonstrations in New York, like in cities across the country, turned violent over the weekend as protesters clashed with police late into the night. The number of police officers on the streets of New York will double from 4,000 to 8,000.