Citizen scientists pursuing Aurora are one step closer to solving the STEVE mystery

The photo was taken on July 17, 2018, at Little Kenos Lake in Saskatchewan, Canada. This photo shows the little green stripes under Steve. Neil Z Eller, photographer and co-author of the newspaper, commented: “That night STEVE was bright and powerful for an hour.” Loan Copyright Defender Neil Eller

In 2018, the world was hit by a new aurora-like discovery. From 2015 to 2016, citizen scientists reported 30 cases of purple ribbon in the sky, with a green fence structure inside. Now called STEVE, or Acceleration of Strong Thermal Emissions, this phenomenon is still new to scientists working to understand all its details. What they do know is that STEV is no ordinary aurora – some think it is not an aurora at all – և A new discovery about the formation of layers inside a structure brings scientists one step closer to solving a mystery.

“Often in physics we develop our understanding and then test extreme cases or check cases in another environment,” said Elizabeth MacDonald, space scientist. NASAexplains the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “STEVE is different from ordinary aurora, but it is made of light, guided by the ear system. By finding these tiny little layers, we can learn something fundamentally new about how green ear light can be produced. ”

These “tiny little stripes” are weird little dot properties in STEVE’s green picket fence. For a new paper AGU Advances:, researchers share their latest findings on these points. They assume that the layers can be the driving points of light. They prolong the blurring of the cameras in the images. The edge of one image line will line up with the tail end of the next image, contributing to these scientists’ speculations. However, there are still many questions to be answered. Finding out if green light is a point or really a line is additional information that will help scientists figure out what causes green light.

“I’m still not sure about this,” said Ost oshua Semeter, a professor at Boston University and the newspaper’s first author. “You have other sequences where there seems to be a tubular structure that survives from image to image, does not seem to correspond to the source of the moving point, so we are not sure about that yet.”

STEVE event

Two different corners of the green lines under the STEVE event on August 31, 2016, near Carster, Alberta, Canterbury. Recent research into the formation of these layers has allowed scientists to learn more about this aurora-like phenomenon. Loan Copyright Neil eller eller

STEVE is generally something that scientists are still trying to label. Scientists tend to classify the optical properties of the sky into two categories: airborne aurora. When the air glows at night, the atoms in the atmosphere reunite, releasing some of their stored energy in the form of light, creating bright layers of color. By studying the rays of the air, scientists can learn more about that area of ​​the atmosphere, the ionosphere. To be classified as an aurora, on the other hand, this emission of light must be caused by electron bombardment. These properties are formed differently, but they also look different. Ventilation can occur along the Earth, and auroras can occur in a wide circle around the Earth’s magnetic poles.

“STEVE generally does not seem to fit well into any of these categories,” Semeter said. “Emissions come from mechanisms we do not yet fully understand.”

STEVE’s purple emissions are probably the result of ions moving at supersonic speeds. Green emissions seem to be related to tornadoes, like rivers that you can see forming slowly: moving slower than other surrounding waters. Green lines also move more slowly than the structure of purple emissions. Եւ Scientists believe that they may be due to the confusion of space particles. A mixture of charged particles և magnetic field, called plasma – at these heights.

“It simply came to our notice then. “There are people who have based their entire careers on turbulence in ionospheric plasma caused by very fast flows.” Semeter said. “The evidence comes mainly from radar measurements. We never have an optical signature. ” Semeter suggests that when it comes to the appearance of STEVE, the flows in these instances are so extreme that we can actually see them in the atmosphere.

“This paper is the tip of the iceberg in this new little piece of picket fence in this new area. “One of the things we do in physics is erase to increase our understanding,” said MacDonald. “This document confirms the height limit – some techniques we can use to detect these properties, then they are better resolved in other observations.”

To establish the height limit, scientists used a wide range of photographs and videos captured by citizen scientists to identify these features.

“Citizen scientists are the ones who brought the STEVE phenomenon to the attention of scientists. “Their photographs usually take longer than our traditional scientific observations,” MacDonald said. “Citizen scientists do not fall into the patterns that scientists receive. They do things differently. “They are free to move the camera, to take the effect they want.” However, to make this new discovery of STEVE spots, the photographers actually took shorter photos to capture this movement.

To get these photos, citizen scientists spend hours in the frost, late at night, waiting for an aurora or, I hope, STEVE to appear. Although data may indicate whether aurora occurs, STEVE indicators have not yet been identified. However, the pursuers of “Aurora” at the same time appear and are photographed.

Steve Neil Z Eller

Citizen scientists are vital to STEVE research because by experimenting with different effects and angles, they can capture images of what phenomena scientists do not. These STEVE images were taken by citizen scientist և co-author on paper Neil eller eller. Loan Copyright Neil eller eller

Neil Zelller, co-author of the photographer’s newspaper, says he did not originally plan to be a citizen scientist. “It was for the beauty of it,” explained the eller eller. Zeller was initially involved in the discovery of STEVE. He showed a picture that STEVE painted at MacDonald years ago, prompting the first studies of the phenomenon. He is currently the co-author of this paper.

“It is an honor, indeed, to be true,” said Eller Eller of this study. “I tend to take a step back from working scientists. I am there to catch those things in the sky for its beauty. ”

This article also uses another valuable contribution of the political scientist: the voluntary database of STEVE observations. Another author of the paper, Michael Hunnekul, maintains this database, previously contributing to STEVE’s discoveries. Hunnekul noticed the lines of the photographs, regardless of the scientists placed on the paper, և his detailed note: triangulation techniques were key in this study.

Eller eller և other citizen scientists plan to continue taking pictures և to study these pictures, to capture the beauty of the Earth’s atmosphere, and MacDonald, Semeter և other scientists will continue to study them, discovering more about this new phenomenon.

Reference. Eshua Semeter, Michael Hunnekul, Elizabeth MacDonald, Michael Hirsch, Neil Zeller, Alexei Chernenkoff և Jun un Wang “The Mystery Under STEVE”, 2020 October 1, AGU Advances:,
DOI: 10.1029 / 2020AV000183:

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