Thus, according to the scientists, the mysterious aurora known as Steve is not an aurora, but it might be a new and yet unknown phenomenon in the ionosphere, its glow being given by a different mechanism than auroras.
Amateur photographers had clicked the contemporary circumstance called STEVE on films for years.
Scientists from the US and Canada have found that a rare atmospheric phenomenon, known who discovered it by Amateur researchers "Steve", is not the Aurora, despite the similarities.
The researchers chose to focus on a STEVE event in March 2008, which was recorded using both ground-based cameras created to track auroras but also NOAA's Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite 17, which was directly overhead at the time.
The ribbons of purple and white were fascinating enough to experts that they earned their own nickname: Steve.
Initially, the photographers thought the light ribbons were the result of excited protons, but these fall outside the range of wavelengths that normal cameras can see and require special equipment to image.
The results suggested that STEVE was in fact produced by a different atmospheric process than the aurora.
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STEVE is not to be confused with another type of faint light which is seen in the darkest of locations: Airglow. By 2016, Steve was brought to the attention of scientists, who turned the name into a backronym for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.
A new and unusual atmospheric phenomenon is being seen in the skies around the world.
"Our main conclusion is that STEVE is not an aurora", Bea Gallardo-Lacourt, study lead author and a space physicist at the University of Calgary, says in a statement. By sheer luck it happened to pass directly over a STEVE. While the research team suspected the two were connected, they could not conclusively state that the ions and electrons were responsible for producing it. Building on this, Gallardo-Lacourt and her colleagues analyzed the STEVE event that took place in March of 2008. The satellite is equipped with an instrument that can measure charged particles precipitating into the ionosphere.
When scientists first looked at images of Steve, they realized that the lights were slightly different from the typical auroras, but they were not sure what exactly was causing them. But for the scientists, it's completely unknown.
And the POES-17 satellite detected no charged particles raining down to the ionosphere during the STEVE event.
Scientists plan to continue research and to test whether the phenomenon due to a flow consisting of fast ions and electrons with high energy in the ionosphere.