New atmospheric phenomenon discovered: Steve

Brian G Turner

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#1


Aurora photographers find new night sky lights and call them Steve - BBC News

Quote:
A group of aurora enthusiasts have found a new type of light in the night sky and named it Steve.

Eric Donovan from the University of Calgary in Canada spotted the feature in photos shared on a Facebook group.

He did not recognise it as a catalogued phenomenon and although the group were calling it a proton arc, he knew proton auroras were not visible.

Testing showed it appeared to be a hot stream of fast-flowing gas in the higher reaches of the atmosphere.

The European Space Agency (ESA) sent electric field instruments to measure it 300km (190 miles) above the surface of the Earth and found the temperature of the air was 3,000C (5,432F) hotter inside the gas stream than outside it.

Inside, the 25km-wide ribbon of gas was flowing at 6 km/s (13,000mph), 600 times faster than the air on either side.

Relatively little else is known about the big purple light as yet but it appears it is not an aurora as it does not stem from the interaction of solar particles with the Earth's magnetic field.

There are reports that the group called it Steve in homage to a 2006 children's film, Over the Hedge, where the characters give the name to a creature they have not seen before.
 

dannymcg

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#2
I started reading this, saw they called it Steve and immediately thought of 'Over the Hedge', -simply because I've sat through it this afternoon with 3 year old grandson.

Very strange lights though.
 

Biskit

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How do we know it's not the trace left by an airplane
I doubt you'd get 3,000C temperatures out of aircraft exhaust - this is getting on for twice the melting point of things like steel and titanium. You also need something to be constantly maintaining the temperature and/or keeping the hot plasma together, otherwise it would disperse quite quickly, so this has to be something more than just stray exhaust gases. And 300km up is higher than you would find aircraft - commercial airliner cruising altitudes are around 12km up.
 

Venusian Broon

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And 300km up is higher than you would find aircraft - commercial airliner cruising altitudes are around 12km up.
Apparently, according to Wikipedia, the US designates anyone who travel above an altitude of 80km as astronauts and the unofficial working definition of where 'space' starts is about 100km up.

300km is actually quite close to where you would find the International Space Station. :)
 

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