It’s Official: The Strange, Aurora-Like STEVE Is a Completely Unique Celestial Phenomenon

This composite image shows STEVE alongside the Milky Way over Childs Lake, Manitoba, Canada. (Image: © Krista Trinder/NASA)

As the northern lights danced and glowed in the night sky this past Labor Day weekend, skywatchers in places like Alaska and Canada may have spotted a rose-tinted streak amidst the dazzling display. But this pink-ish ribbon isn’t an aurora — it’s STEVE!

Chelsea Gohd |

STEVE (the Strong Thermal Emissions Velocity Enhancement) is a spectacular and colorful celestial phenomenon that was first spotted 2016. Scientists have studied the particles associated with STEVE for decades, but only recently have they witnessed the phenomenon in the sky. This past summer, a research team led by University of Calgary researcher D.M. Gillies confirmed that, despite its colorful appearance, STEVE isn’t a type of aurora but something entirely unique. 

In May, researchers confirmed that STEVE is not an aurora. But this new research expands our understanding of the strange phenomenon even further.

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