24/7 Space News
Photographer's Discovery and Swarm Data Reveal Steve's Twin
illustration only
Photographer's Discovery and Swarm Data Reveal Steve's Twin
by Erica Marchand
Paris, France (SPX) Jun 06, 2024

Ever since aurora chasers discovered Steve, a mysterious ribbon of purple light in the night sky, scientists have wondered whether it might have a secret twin. Thanks to a photographer's keen eye and data from ESA's Swarm satellites, we may have found it.

Steve was first identified a few years ago by the Alberta Aurora Chasers Facebook group. Its mauve hue and fleeting appearance differentiated it from the aurora borealis, which appears in green, blue, and red and lasts for hours. Steve is a fast-moving stream of extremely hot gas called a sub-auroral ion drift, or a strong thermal emission velocity enhancement.

Steve appears at dusk when the fast-moving stream of hot gases moves westward. Scientists also know of an equivalent stream moving eastward at dawn. This raised the question of whether there might be a similar visual effect on the dawn side.

A new study from the University of Electro-Communications in Japan, the Swedish Institute of Space Physics, the Arctic University of Norway, and Tromso-based photographer Gabriel Arne Hofstra suggests we might have found Steve's twin. Researchers and citizen scientists collaborated to develop an application that collects images of the aurora above the Norwegian Arctic from the all-sky digital camera at the Ramfjordmoen Research Station.

Gabriel Arne Hofstra discovered something Steve-like in an image from 28 December 2021. He said, "It has been amazing to have contributed to new science and help scientists uncover this phenomena. To me, it proves that we citizens can contribute to understanding the world we live in by collaborating with scientists. If we have more 'eyes on the sky,' we can help unravel its mysteries. I really hope that the recent great geomagnetic storm and spectacular skies has encouraged more people to be interested in space physics and contribute to our scientific understanding of our world."

The arc appeared after midnight, on the dawn side, and was poleward of the green aurora. While none of ESA's Swarm satellites flew directly through the arc at the observed time and place, two satellites' electric field instruments measured the conditions in the purple region before, during, and after the event. The data indicated an eastward ion flow.

"As a scientist, collaborating with a photographer to uncover this new phenomenon has been a fantastic experience," said Sota Nanjo of the University of Electro-Communications.

"Our findings not only open new avenues in auroral physics, but also underscore the importance of continuous collaboration between scientists and photographers. Such efforts are particularly crucial in the coming years as solar activity approaches its peak, when we may encounter extraordinary phenomena."

Digital cameras, while not used scientifically, provide great contrast between the colors of normal aurora and Steve-like effects. With digital cameras widely available, the geomagnetic storm on 10 May 2024 became the world's most documented aurora event.

"It's great to see yet another example of successful citizen science," said Swarm Mission Manager, Anja Stromme.

"The combination of millions of images taken worldwide, along with data from the satellites of ESA's heliophysics observatory, like Swarm, will give us an even better understanding of how space weather affects Earth's atmosphere."

Related Links
Swarm at ESA
Solar Science News at SpaceDaily

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
Third time could prove lucky for aurora viewers around the world
Washington (AFP) May 13, 2024
Anyone who missed the dazzling auroras dancing across night skies earlier this weekend will get another chance Sunday evening, as the powerful geomagnetic storm hitting the Earth is expected to intensify yet again. "Several intense Coronal Mass Ejections are still anticipated to reach the Earth's outer atmosphere by later today," the US National Weather Service said. Those ejections - expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun, known as CMEs - have since Friday produced spectacular ... read more

Human bodies mostly recover from space, tourist mission shows

Ohio State students to test space food solutions for NASA

US and Germany double down on space exploration

Virgin Galactic completes final spaceflight before two-year pause

Boeing Starliner spacecraft springs more leaks on way to ISS

Rocket Lab plans 50th Electron mission to deploy five satellites for Kineis

Galactic Energy Launches Third Rocket in 10 Days

Stealth gas contracts awarded amid high profile crewed Starliner mission

New analysis suggests lack of subglacial lake on Mars

NASA explores new Mars Sample Return concepts

Martian Polar Ice Flow Mystery Finally Explained

Mars' subsurface ice could be a key to sustaining future habitats on other planets

China Open to Space Collaboration with the US

Shenzhou 18 crew conducts first spacewalk

Zebrafish on China's space station reported to be in good condition

China sends experimental satellite into orbit with Long March 4C rocket

Fired SpaceX workers sue Elon Musk over workplace abuses

Nara Space Secures $14.5M Series B to Expand Satellite Fleet

China launches multi-functional communication satellite for Pakistan

CGI works on new interfaces for European Space Agency to expand satellite communications market

Heat-Resistant Metal Alloys Under Study

Magnesium oxide transition insights for super-Earth exoplanets revealed

Purdue Researchers Transform 2D Metal Halide Perovskites into 1D Nanowires

DR Congo copper, cobalt miners trapped in exploitative conditions: NGOs

Giant viruses discovered on Greenland ice sheet

Planet-forming Disks Around Low-mass Stars Show Unique Characteristics

NASA's Webb Telescope Observes Potentially Habitable Exoplanets

Newly Discovered Planet Retains Atmosphere Despite Star's Intense Radiation

Understanding Cyclones on Jupiter Through Oceanography

Unusual Ion May Influence Uranus and Neptune's Magnetic Fields

NASA's Europa Clipper Arrives in Florida for Launch Preparation

New Earth-Based Telescope Images of Jupiter's Moon Io Match Spacecraft Quality

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.