Scientists Confirm New Aurora-Like Phenomenon Called A 'Skyglow' But There Are Some Who Call It... STEVE?

Tuesday, 21 August 2018 - 11:59AM
Astronomy
Earth
Tuesday, 21 August 2018 - 11:59AM
Scientists Confirm New Aurora-Like Phenomenon Called A 'Skyglow' But There Are Some Who Call It... STEVE?
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We like to think of the scientific community as being a group of Very Serious Individuals™ committed to approaching natural phenomena with the utmost objectivity and professionalism... But then they go and name a protein after Pikachu, or categorize quarks into nonsensical personalities like "strange antiquark" or "charm quark," as though subatomic particles are types of Smurf. Now, after discovering that a beautiful celestial phenomenon similar to an aurora is actually caused by some as-yet-unknown force, they've gone ahead and made its official name...

"STEVE."

To be fair, the name "Steve" was originally the idea of a group of amateur Canadian photographers who have been taking photos of the aurora-like glow for years. STEVE usually manifests as a purple-and-white ribbon in the sky running from east to west, but it can appear at lower latitudes than auroras, leading scientists to believe that a different natural mechanism was causing it. Since it wasn't quite an aurora (and no one else knew what it was) the photographers decided to pay homage to a scene from the 2006 animated film Over the Hedge and dub it "Steve." At a scientific conference in 2016, a physicist presented the current knowledge on Steve and proposed dubbing it "STEVE," an acronym for "Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement."

Now a follow-up study has been performed on STEVE, confirming that it is definitely not an aurora – instead, it has been dubbed a "skyglow" (although we still don't know what's causing it). According to Bea Gallardo-Lacourt, the lead author on the study, "Our main conclusion is that STEVE is not an aurora. So right now, we know very little about it. And that's the cool thing, because this has been known by photographers for decades. But for the scientists, it's completely unknown."

So here's a piece of life advice: if you or your friends ever discover something unknown to science, make sure to name it whatever the Hell you want to, first. The scientific community will totally play along. It doesn't matter how ridiculous the name is – there's a mini-sub trawling around the Antarctic named Boaty McBoatface, for God's sake.

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