In the darkness of Sunday night and Monday morning (August 7 and 8), a wonder solar storm slammed to Earth, sweeping our planet in a rapid stream of charged particles Sunday, Consequential collision of solar and terrestrial particles Earththe atmosphere was shocking auroras A surprising cameo began – and, in southern Canada, from the mysterious sky phenomenon known as steve – to appear at latitudes much lower than usual.
Alan Dyer, an astronomy writer and photographer based in southern Alberta, Canada, caught wispy ribbons of green and purple light on camera while shooting through the sky.
“Steve lasted about 40 minutes, headed north … becoming visible as an aurora,” Dyer wrote. on twitter (opens in new tab) on 8 August. “Steve was ‘discovered’ here so he likes to be seen here more than anywhere else!”
related: Oldest documented aurora found in ancient Chinese text
As Dyer noted, the strange sky glow named Steve was first described in 2017 by citizen scientists and aurora hunters in northern Canada. Steve is usually composed of a giant ribbon of purple light, which can hang in the sky for an hour or more. By the “picket fence” of green lights that usually disappear within a few minutes.
The flashing river of light may sound like an aurora, but it is actually a unique phenomenon that was believed to be “completely unknownScience on its discovery. Today, scientists have a slightly better idea of what’s going on.
Steve (short for “strong thermal velocity increase”) is a long, thin line of hot gas Which roams in the sky for hundreds of miles. The warm air inside Steve can be over 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit (3,000 degrees Celsius) and about 500 times faster than the air on each side of it, satellite observations have shown.
Whereas the northern lights occur when charged solar particles collide into molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere, Steve is visible much lower in the sky, in a region known as the subaural zone. This means that the solar particles are not straight responsible for steve, Live Science previously reported. However, Steve is almost always visible during solar storms, like Sunday, after the northern lights have faded.
One hypothesis This suggests that Steve is the result of sudden bursts of thermal and kinetic energy in the subaural zone, which somehow result from collisions of highly charged particles in the atmosphere during aurora-inducing solar storms. However, more research is needed to uncover Steve’s true secrets. In the meantime, we can just enjoy its otherworldly glow and gaze at its twinkling green fingers.
Originally published on Live Science.