(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists recorded an unexpected solar storm on August 7 and 8, as a result of which streams of charged particles literally literally fell on the Earth’s atmosphere.
This has led to the emergence of the northern lights at much lower latitudes than usual. But the most interesting thing happened in southern Canada. Here, after the northern lights, a mysterious celestial phenomenon was recorded, which was named STEVE.
It appears as streaks of various shades of purple light with green flashes. This phenomenon over Canada lasted for 40 minutes and was photographed.
What is STEW and why this phenomenon occurs is not known for certain, but what are the assumptions about this? Scientists already have some data on this subject.
What is “STEVE”
The atmospheric phenomenon “STEVE” was first discovered not so long ago – in 2017. It also happened in Canada. A strange glow was recorded by a group of amateur astronomers led by Chris Ratzlaff. Initially, they mistook the bright streak of light for a proton aurora.
However, scientists at the University of Calgary, having studied the photo, came to the conclusion that this is not a proton glow at all, since it is not impossible for the human eye to see it. The phenomenon turned out to be unexplored and generally unknown.
When scientists compared the time and place of the phenomenon with information received from the Swarm satellite, they were finally convinced that we were talking about a mysterious phenomenon.
However, data from the same satellite somewhat clarified the situation. As it turned out, the glow was caused by an elongated cloud of hot gas with a length of 25 km and a temperature of 3 thousand degrees Celsius.
The cloud was at an altitude of 300 km and was moving at a speed of 6 km/s, that is, the cloud was moving 500 times faster than the currents around it. Later it turned out that the phenomenon is not so rare, but scientists have not previously studied it.
What does the name “STEVE” mean?
What does the name STEVE mean? It was invented by Chris Ratzlaff. By the way, initially the name had nothing to do with science. The astronomer simply remembered the cartoon “The Woodland Fellows”, in which the characters, when faced with something inexplicable, gave it the name “Steve”.
Later, a NASA employee, Elizabeth McDonald, proposed a decoding for this name – “Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement”.
Why the “STEVE” Phenomenon Occurs
The aurora is known to arise because charged solar particles crash into the molecules of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. This phenomenon occurs in those parts of our planet where the magnetic field is the weakest, that is, near the magnetic poles.
Since the magnetic field repels solar particles in the rest of the planet, they do not collide with the upper layers.
Accordingly, the aurora borealis theoretically cannot arise. However, in the case of strong solar storms, as we said above, the auroras occur at lower latitudes. We talked about this in more detail in an article devoted to a spot on the Sun.
The STEVE phenomenon, unlike the northern lights, occurs much closer to Earth. A cloud of hot gases is recorded in an area called the subauroral zone. From this we can conclude that solar particles are not directly related to this phenomenon.
But why then does the phenomenon occur during solar storms? The current situation in Canada is further proof of this. Moreover, as we said above, “STEVE” appeared when the northern lights began to subside.
According to one of the hypotheses, STEVE is a consequence of the release of kinetic and thermal energy that occurs in the subauroral zone.
Scientists still can not say for what reason this emission occurs? But, presumably, it is caused by the collision of charged particles in the higher layers of the atmosphere. This explains why “STEVE” only appears during solar storms.
However, it should be understood that so far these are only assumptions that may be erroneous. To find out why “STEVE” actually occurs, scientists need to do research.
Obviously, in the near future we will receive more accurate and detailed information. But even now we can say with confidence that STEW is a much less dangerous phenomenon for the inhabitants of the Earth than magnetic storms.
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