Run, don’t walk, to SpaceWeather for a super cool video of STEVE!
STEVE RETURNS (UPDATED WITH VIDEO): Last night in Alberta, Canada, photographer Alan Dyer looked up and saw a mauve ribbon of light bisecting the night sky. Auroras? Not exactly. “It was STEVE,” says Dyer, who took these pictures of the glowing arc:
STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) often appears alongside auroras, but it is not the same thing. Researchers are only beginning to understand the phenomenon–aided by a chance encounter between STEVE and a European satellite. In situ measurements suggest that STEVE is the afterglow of a hot ribbon of gas that flows through Earth’s magnetosphere during some geomagnetic storms.
Dyer caught STEVE just as it was fading. Other photographers saw a more spectacular display.
“My dog barked at STEVE for the entire hour it was visible,” reports Matthew Wheeler of Robson Valley, British Columbia. “We spotted the ribbon just after midnight, and even without dark-adapted eyes it was easy to see the textures moving at astonishing speed.” Click to view Wheeler’s video of STEVE in motion: