As the Hyakutake comet streaked closer to the warming sun, there were signs that one or more chunks may have broken loose from its snowball nucleus. Already the brightest comet in 20 years, Hyakutake might become truly spectacular if its nucleus should disintegrate in the next few weeks.
Dr. Francois Colas at France's Pic du Midi Observatory said he had seen two "condensations," or bright blips, in the comet's dust tail. They appear to have resulted from the breaking off of fragments of the cometary nucleus -- fragments that are emitting luminous gas and dust like miniature comets.
Planetary experts have surmised that Hyakutake may become so warmed by the sun that it will split apart and disintegrate.
The comet will become highly visible again in a few weeks, after it completes its circuit around the sun and begins its long journey back to the outermost region of the solar system.
Original file name: .CNI - Comet Gets Brighter?
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