Disintegration of comet nuclei
Space Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Profsoyuznaya str. 84/32, Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation
The breaking up of comets into separate pieces, each with its own tail, was seen many times by astronomers of the past. The phenomenon was in sharp contrast to the idea of the eternal and unchangeable celestial firmament and was commonly believed to be an omen of impending disaster, especially for comets with tails stretching across half the sky. It is only now that we have efficient enough space exploration tools to see comet nuclei and even — in the particular case of small comet Hartley-2 in 2010 — to watch their disintegration stage. There are also other suspected candidates for disintegration in the vast family of comet nuclei and other Solar System bodies.