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New kind of aurora is not an aurora at all

20 August 2018

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Thin ribbons of purple and white light that sometimes appear in the night sky were dubbed a new type of aurora when brought to scientists' attention in 2016. But new research suggests these mysterious streams of light are not an aurora at all but an entirely new celestial phenomenon.

Amateur photographers had captured the new phenomenon, called STEVE, on film for decades. But the scientific community only got wind of STEVE in 2016. When scientists first looked at images of STEVE, they realized the lights were slightly different than light from typical auroras but were not sure what underlying mechanism was causing them.

Source: American Geophysical Union

Image credit: Ryan Sault - Alberta Aurora Chasers capture STEVE, the new-to-science upper atmospheric phenomenon.

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