Meet the mysterious light in the sky called STEVE

A new study has just determined that STEVE, also known as Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement, is absolutely not an aurora and is still a mystery that continues to puzzle scientists.

Scientists from the USA and Canada have found that a rare atmospheric phenomenon, known who discovered it by Amateur researchers "Steve", is not the Aurora, despite the similarities.

A follow-up study coordinated ground-based imagery of STEVE with data from NOAA's Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite 17, which can measure charged particles precipitating into the ionosphere - the process which causes auroras to appear. In 2016, it was brought to the attention of scientists, who began trying to explain what accounted for the unusual ribbons of purple and white light in the night sky.

A new study published recently suggests that the stream of lights that appear in the night sky might look like an aurora.

STEVE is not to be confused with another type of faint light which is seen in the darkest of locations: Airglow. Writing in the journal Science Advances in March, researchers (including Gallardo-Lacourt) made a decision to keep the name "Steve" as the official nomenclature for the colorful happening, but changed it to an acronym standing for "Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement" - a.k.a., STEVE.

To those who live in northern areas, STEVE is a sky glow that has been visible for decades now, but it was only this year that saw the phenomenon acknowledged and written about, which was in large part due to groups like the Alberta Aurora Chasers. And that's the cool thing, because this has been known by photographers for decades.

"Our main conclusion is that STEVE is not an Aurora", said lead author Bea Gallardo-Lacourt, a space physicist at the University of Calgary in Canada.

In fact, rather than an aurora, we should be calling STEVE a "skyglow", the team suggests.

A spectacular band of light burning through the sky in a 3000° celsius arc that became famous around April a year ago could be an entirely new celestial phenomenon. When scientists initially observed the images of STEVE they perceived the lights were moderately different than lights from archetypal auroras but were not convinced what concealed processes were engendering them.

And the POES-17 satellite detected no charged particles raining down to the ionosphere during the STEVE event.

'So right now, we know very little about it.

Carly Stagg at the CBC reports the glowing bands are not auroras at all but something completely unknown, as researchers determined in only the second study ever done on the phenomena.

Next, researchers want to see if a stream of fast-moving ions and super-hot electrons in the ionosphere are creating STEVE or something else higher up in the atmosphere is responsible for producing this mysterious light.