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Steve

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pageturner
1366565.  Fri Nov 27, 2020 4:03 pm Reply with quote

From the Times today. Could be an interesting: which Steve lives in the sky above Western Canada?

“This is the name of a stunning phenomenon, a purple arch soaring high in the night sky that looks like an aurora, but is not.

It was discovered by amateur photographers who called it Steve because it was so mysterious that it reminded them of a children’s film, Over the Hedge, in which a group of woodland creatures find a vast hedge and, not knowing what it is, call it Steve.

In 2016 the science community acknowledged the phenomenon. The glowing light is created by hot rivers of gas, at 3,000C, streaming through the Earth’s magnetosphere faster than 13,000mph, on the edge of space. Steve often appears alongside auroras during geomagnetic storms, although it is a very different phenomenon. In an aurora, the glowing ribbons of coloured light come as energetic particles from the sun, bombard the Earth’s magnetic field and set gases glowing in the upper atmosphere.

There’s now a growing realisation that Steve can also appear with a picket fence of vertical green pillars hanging beneath its purple arch. Photographs from amateur astronomers have also revealed what looks like small green feet or cannonballs sticking out at the bottom of the pillars of the picket fence (see https://bit.ly/3lcqlZg and https://go.nasa.gov/369s5Ow).

A recent study in the journal AGU Advances (https://bit.ly/2V3zHfh) found that these were actually point-like balls of gas moving horizontally through the sky, about 65 miles high. Analysis suggested that the streaks in these images were not actually lines, but appeared that way due to motion blur as spherical blobs of glowing gas moved through the atmosphere.

The green features also moved more slowly than the structures in the purple emissions. The scientists speculated that they could be caused by turbulence in the space particles, a brew of charged particles and magnetic field called plasma, rather like the eddies swirling in a river as water flows at different speeds.“

 

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