A Mysterious Celestial Phenomenon Called "Steve" Has Been Discovered & No One Knows Quite What It Is Yet

Ad failed to load

Strange events in the sky usually come with an even stranger name, but a mysterious celestial phenomenon called "Steve" has recently been discovered, and its name is even odder than usual. The internet, of course, can't get enough of it — and for good reason. I mean, when was the last time some exciting, celestial activity was attached to a name so... well... regular?

Planets in our solar system typically have names derived from Roman or Greek mythology; indeed, the official names of planets and their moons are governed by a specific organization. Called the International Astronomical Union (IAU), this organization has, according to NASA, a "mission 'to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation.'"

But when it comes to other activities of the sky, it seems the naming process can sometimes be a community effort. Take what's going on in the sky in Alberta, Canada, for example. Amateur star-gazers looking for the northern lights discovered a curious streak of purplish light — and since no one is really quite sure what it is, everyone has taken to calling it simply, "Steve." Yes, even scientists.

Ad failed to load

According to CBC News, Eric Donovan, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Calgary described the lights as "a traditional auroral arc" during an appearance on the radio show Calgary Eyeopener. What's more, Donovan noted that they had been spotted by sky-watchers and researchers before: "We have seen it from Hudson Bay all the way over to Alaska in our data, and so it's like someone reached in from space and drew a line with a purple magic marker across the Earth," he said.

According to Space.com, Donovan first heard about "Steve" while communicating with amateur star-gazers in the Facebook group, Alberta Aurora Chasers. He later overheard others discussing in a pub that Steve may be a proton aurora. However, he knew this to be incorrect. Auroras happen when charged particles pushed away from the Sun are attracted to our planet's North and South poles by the magnetic field — they create bright streaks of color in the sky after hitting neutral particles in the upper atmosphere. Donovan knew a proton aurora could not be seen by the naked eye and became determined to find out exactly what the lights in the sky were. "Myself and some other scientists decided we were going to try and figure out what this thing was," CBC News reports him as saying.

Ad failed to load

Apparently members of the Alberta Aurora Chasers Facebook group had been taking photos of the mysterious lights over Canada for several years. Chris Ratzlaff, a photographer and the administrator for the group named the light Steve, after a scene in an animated movie called Over the Hedge, in which several of the animals characters called noises that they couldn't identify over the hedge, the same name.

Commenting on his choice, Ratzlaff according to CBC News, "t's a completely meaningless name, which is really useful for things that aren't understood." Once Ratzlaff spoke with Donovan to confirm the lights were indeed, not a proton, he wrote a post to the Facebook group urging others to call it Steve until more was known about it. In December, after concluding that Steve is actually a very hot ribbon of quickly-moving gas, Donovan presented his findings at a meeting in California and found by coincidence that the name "Steve" was both scientifically accurate and highly humorous. One audience member at the talk pointed out that because Steve is "'a sudden thermal emission through a velocity enhancement," the name just so happens to also be an acronym. (Get it? Sudden Thermal Emission through Velocity Enhancement? S.T.E.V.E.? Yup. That happened.)

Ad failed to load

The impact of citizen scientists on the scientific community is definitely exciting. As Space.com reports, Donovan noted during a recent talk at a science meeting called Swarm in Canada that scientists likely would have never pinpointed the newfound phenomenon without social media. Just 15 years ago, the costs for tracking down something as exciting as Steve could have totaled to $200 or $300 million, but today citizen scientists can do the job on social media and often get to work side by side with researchers as a result.

So is Steve here to stay? Donovan seems to think so, reports CBC News. Donovan commented during the California talk that the name is "nice" and... "injects a little bit of fun into our lives as scientists — not that we don't have fun, but this is more fun than normal."

Ad failed to load

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

What I Learned About Work-Life Balance After Relapsing From Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Almost two years ago, I woke up in a hotel room, groggy and dehydrated, with my clothes all over the room and my nightstand filled with mini bottles of liquor. I had spent the previous two days drinking all the alcohol in my mini bar. I'm not sure wh…
By Irina Gonzalez

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In March, So You Can Plan Your Next Marathon Now

Even though the groundhog saw his shadow — forecasting six more weeks of winter — a nice spring thaw is already on everyone's minds. Fortunately, Netflix has things squared away for March. Whether you're ready to cozy up in front of a fire or get you…
By Sophy Ziss

11 Thoughts That Mean You’re Not As Happy With Your Partner As You Might Think

Even if your current dating situation seems to be going well — you're hanging out, having fun, having sex, etc. — it's still possible that you might not be happy with your partner, and thus not truly happy in your relationship. This can be a gut feel…
By Carolyn Steber

25 Book Recommendations From Your Favorite TV Characters

Although the two may seem like natural enemies, the truth is, television and reading are a match made in bibliophile heaven. Not only are some of the best shows based on or inspired by literature, but whenever you turn on the tube you can be sure to …
By Sadie Trombetta

Bustle Editors On CPAC + 'Making A Murderer'

Adulthood is, essentially, just waiting until the weekend hits — which is why I know we're all glad it's finally Friday. Whether your plans are to catch up on all the Netflix content that'll be leaving the platform at the end of February, a weekend g…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

7 Signs Your Energy Is Closed Off To Love, According To A Psychic

Finding love requires more than just the actions of going on dates or setting up an online dating profile. It also requires opening yourself up to love and giving off the vibe that you're open. You may not even realize it if you're energetically bloc…
By Suzannah Weiss

It Took Heather Graham YEARS To Make A Movie About Women Ditching Toxic Men. The Reason? Men.

They say you should write what you know. But in Hollywood, that age-old advice apparently needs an addendum: Write what you know — as long as men are into it. And for actor and newly minted director/screenwriter Heather Graham — a woman who swam thro…
By Kelsea Stahler

Target Just Launched A Gorgeous New Home Brand — And Most Pieces Are Under $30

Design lovers rejoice! Everyone's favorite store for pretty much everything is about to make all your daring decorating dreams come true. Today, Target's corporate blog issued a press release that provides a peek into Target's new homeware line, Opal…
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

17 Brilliant Ways To Support Parkland Survivors Wherever You Are

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survivors are demanding Congress take action. A large group of students who survived the shooting are opposing politicians' "thoughts and prayers," arguing that inst…
By Sarah Beauchamp

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale