Saturday, August 25, 2018

Scientists Determine 'STEVE' Is Not An Aurora

 According to a new study led by physicists at the University of Calgary, the striking sky phenomenon dubbed STEVE is actually not an aurora. Documented for decades, STEVE attracted the attention of the scientific community back in 2016 through a photo captured by Ryan Sault.
 In this study, researchers analyzed another STEVE event documented from March 2008. By comparing the STEVE event with data of aurora activity during the same time and region - specifically the intensity of particles raining down into the ionosphere, it was found that STEVE was not affected by the same process that produces auroras.
 “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. Data collected from NOAA's Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite 17 indicated no charged particles rained down into the ionosphere during the STEVE event.
“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.”
“This is really interesting because we haven’t figured it out and when you get a new problem, it’s always exciting,” said Joe Borovsky, a space physicist at the Space Science Institute in Los Alamos, New Mexico who was not connected to the new study. “It’s like you think you know everything and it turns out you don’t.”

Read the full press release here: https://news.agu.org/press-release/new-kind-of-aurora-is-not-an-aurora-at-all/
Or read the study here: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2018GL078509

Image Credit: Ryan Sault / Alberta Aurora Chasers

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