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STEVE Is Back, And Weirder Than Ever

Steve streaks

The mysterious, aurora-like phenomenon called STEVE just got a little weirder. If you don’t know STEVE (short for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) by name, you may know it from photos. Unlike the infamous Southern and Northern Lights, which blanket the sky in ethereal green swirls near Earth’s magnetic poles, STEVE appears as a purplish-white ribbon of light that slashes diagonally toward the horizon, stretching hundreds of miles through the atmosphere. It can appear closer to the equator than a typical aurora, and is often accompanied by a “picket fence” of jagged green points dancing beside it. Nobody knows what … Read more

“Steve” Gets a Documentary

Steve - Live Science

An oddball sky glow endearingly named “Steve” captivated aurora chasers from the moment they first spotted and photographed the unique light display over Canada in 2016. Steve somewhat resembled an aurora, but its sky-climbing ribbons and ladders of purple and green light were distinctly different in shape and behavior from those produced by a typical aurora. Since then, Steve has intrigued not only hobbyist skygazers but also astronomers from NASA — and filmmakers, too. “Chasing Steve,” a new documentary that was screened Dec. 9 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), highlights the efforts of citizen scientists … Read more

“Steve” Has Finally Been Solved

Steve - Live Science

Three years ago, a mysterious purplish glow arced across the Canadian skies. The light show was a completely unknown celestial phenomenon, so it was given a name befitting its beauty and grandeur: Steve. Now, scientists have finally pinpointed what causes the phenomenon’s glowing ribbons of reddish purple and green: magnetic waves, winds of hot plasma and showers of electrons in regions they normally never appear. While aurora glows occur when electrons and protons fall into Earth’s atmosphere, “the STEVE atmospheric glow comes from heating without particle precipitation,” study co-author Bea Gallardo-Lacourt, a space physicist at the University of Calgary in … Read more

SCIENCE: Meet Steve, the Happy Sky Glow

Steve - Live Science

Late at night on July 25, 2016, a thin river of purple light slashed through the skies of northern Canada in an arc that seemed to stretch hundreds of miles into space. It was a magnificent, mysterious, borderline-miraculous sight, and the group of citizen skywatchers who witnessed it decided to give the phenomenon a fittingly majestic name: “Steve.” Given its coincidence with the northern lights, Steve was just thought to be part of the aurora — the shimmering sheets of nighttime color that appear in the sky when charged plasma particles streak out of the sun, sail across space on … Read more