A strange spiral calls itself the Northern Lights

A strange spiral calls itself the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are a sight in and of themselves. But when a strange bluish spiral is added, the fireworks are incomparable, and questions about the origin of this phenomenon immediately follow. Don Hampton, chief scientist at the Poker Flat Research Range Astronomical Observatory in Alaska, offered an explanation that cut even the most esoteric speculations down.

The spiral in question, photographed by many aurora lovers, appeared on April 15, shortly after 9 a.m., in the still-dark Alaskan skies, just hours after the SpaceX Falcon-9 launched from base in Vandenberg, California. rocket. It launched 51 satellites into polar orbit. Its first stage returned to Earth at its launch point, while the second stage, having accomplished its mission, was bound for the Pacific Ocean.

The cloud appeared after all of the mission’s payloads had been deployedDon Hampton notes, In a statement from the Institute of Geophysics, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. So it’s likely rocket exhaust, or perhaps unnecessary outgassing. The spiral shape indicates that the second stage was rotating when the gases were vented. » The American astronomer specifies that at this altitude, all the water vapor has turned into ice, which reflects the sunlight, creating a bright cloud visible from Alaska, still sinking into darkness because the sun was still below the horizon. “This cloud looks very bright in these pictures, but it’s probably no more than a few pounds of water.”says researcher.

This phenomenon is not new. In January, another vortex was seen over Hawaii, It was captured by a Japanese Subaru telescope camera, at the top of Mauna Kea. The researchers then attributed this spiral to the launch of a military GPS satellite by a SpaceX rocket.

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