A recently spotted atmospheric phenomenon is bringing wonder to the scientific community. It was first detected by aurora watchers, who also went and named it “Steve”. Eric Donovan, a University of Calgary associate professor then went to take a closer look at this night sky event.
Steve Is Reportedly Quite Common But Also Undetected
Initially, this atmospheric phenomenon was presented as being a proton aurora. But as Professor Donovan pointed out, these are not invisible. Steve’s photos also came with an unknown light, so the professor and his colleagues turned to the Swarm. This constellation of satellites operated by the European Space Agency is currently studying the magnetic field of our planet.
The team of scientists kept track of Steve’s ground sightings. Then, it matched these with the movements of the Swarm. As such, the scientists were able to measure its instance. Steve seems to be taking place some 190 miles above Earth’s surface. It also appears to have an air temperature some 5,400 hotter than the atmosphere surrounding it.
The tests have shown that this atmospheric event seems to be “a hot stream of fast-flowing gas”. This gas stream is flowing at around 13,000 mph or some 600 times faster than the air on either side of it. Also, Steve appears to be 25 km wide.
Professor Donovan stated that, quite unexpectedly so, Steve is a common occurrence. He said that it appears quite often, but was previously undetected. As it is, there is little else to tell about Steve at the moment.
“It’s thanks to ground-based observations, satellites, today’s explosion of access to data and an army of citizen scientists joining forces to document it.”
These will all be taking a closer look at the phenomenon and try to document it. Media reports also state that “Steve” was picked as a reference to the movie called “Over the Hedge”. It may also become its official name or at least its abbreviation.
Some reports state that the name proposal for this phenomenon is “Sudden Thermal Emission from Velocity Enhancement”. Professor Donovan and his colleagues will also be looking to publish a study on Steve, the gas stream.
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