An unusual aurora named STEVE •

An unusual aurora named STEVE


An unusual aurora named STEVE Today’s Video of the Day comes from NASA Goddard and features a look at an unusual aurora effect known as STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement).

After people began noticing a purple streak of light over the aurora, scientists realized it may be in an important part of understanding Earth’s magnetic fields.

STEVE typically appears as a narrow purple arc, but sometimes has additional green features that indicate the presence of plasma physics at work. Elizabeth MacDonald, a space physicist at NASA’s Goddard Research Center and founder of the first citizen science network for the auroras, enjoyed the name, so her team turned it into the backronym STEVE, for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.

STEVE often, although not always, is observed above a green, “picket-fence” aurora. Although the picket-fence aurora is created through precipitation of electrons, they appear outside the auroral oval and so their formation is different from traditional aurora. STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) is an atmospheric optical phenomenon that appears as a purple and green light ribbon in the sky, named in late 2016 by aurora watchers from Alberta, Canada. An unusual aurora named STEVE as shown above in video shows the strong effect.

By Rory Arnold, Staff Writer

Video Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Genna Duberstein

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