The ephemeral glow of the northern and southern lights has entranced humans throughout the ages, sparking countless creative works, myths, and legends as well as scientific study of the mechanism behind the phenomenon. But the celestial fireworks still have the capacity to surprise experts, as scientists and sky-watchers learned when they met “Steve,” a whole new kind of light show first spotted by citizen scientists in 2016 in Alberta, Canada.
Featuring an elongated purple stream and sometimes a green, picket fence-like structure, this odd illumination can be seen lingering at latitudes far lower than typical aurorae. Bemused space physicists couldn’t ascertain whether the entity was a genuine aurora, albeit a weirdly shaped one, or something else entirely.
Now, research suggests