There are thin ribbons of purple and white light that sometimes appear in the night sky. These were called a new type of Aurora when they were brought to the scientists’ attention back in 2016.
Now, the latest research suggests that these mysterious streams of light are not an aurora at all, but they are an entirely new celestial phenomenon.
Amateur photographers have been capturing the phenomenon called STEVE on film for a few decades now. The scientific community only became interested in it back in 2016.
When scientists first looked at images of Steve, they realized that the lights were slightly different from the typical auroras, but they were not sure what exactly was causing them.
In a brand new study, researchers analyzed a STEVE event back in March 2008 just to check out whether it was produced in a similar manner in which it was in 2016.
The results suggested that STEVE was in fact produced by a different atmospheric process than the aurora. This means that the phenomenon was an entirely new one.
“Our main conclusion is that STEVE is not an Aurora,” said Bea Gallardo-Lacourt, a space physicist at the University of Calgary in Canada and lead author of the new study in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
“So right now, we know very little about it. And that’s the cool thing because this has been known by photographers for decades. But for the scientists, it’s completely unknown.”
So, this skyglow was utterly different from the aurora.
Currently, the studies involving STEVE can help scientists to better understand the upper atmosphere and all the processes that are generating light in the sky.
For now, the only conclusion is that STEVE is a new kind of optical phenomenon they call “skyglow.”
The next step is to see whether the streams of fast ions and hot electrons in the ionosphere are creating STEVE’s light, or if the light is produced much higher up in the atmosphere.
Rada attended the courses in the Faculty of Letters, Romanian-English section, and finished the Faculty of Theatre and Television, Theatrical Journalism section, both within the framework of Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca. Up ’til now, she reviewed books, movies, and theatre-plays, enjoying subjects from the cultural niche. Her experience in writing also intersects the IT niche, given the fact that she worked as a content editor for firms that produce software for mobile devices. She is collaborating with online advertising agencies, writing articles for several websites and blogs.