In March 2002, physicist Dr. David northern observed something remarkable while observing the aurora of northern Canada. Although he made a note of it, Knudsen could no longer find his time.
Fortunately, though, he was part of a team filming in the Northern Lights. The video he made almost two decades later has been intensively studied and turned the previously unchanged auroral phenomenon into the subject of a scientific paper. Physicists still don’t understand what Knudsen saw or how it happened, but they certainly want to know. Polar lights have probably fascinated people since we moved enough from the equator to see them.
The physics that stimulates them in the upper atmosphere and their connection to the sun’s outflows has been understood for at least 60 years. Still, we still find lots of new and exciting aspects like the sleek reddish-pink band dubbed Steve. Knudsen of the University of Calgary was Churchill, where the cause of the auroras was first established, photographing the sky with a camera that is often obscured by the more distracted “isolated auroras” camera.
That’s exactly what happened. Despite the clear skies and the proximity of the Earth’s North Geomagnetic Pole to Knudsen and colleagues, they did not see much aerial activity with the naked eye. As the more sensitive camera picks up a scattered aurora, parts of it disappear and return in an unfamiliar way. In 2010, Dr. Allison Joyce of the University of Iowa learned about recording at a scientific meeting.
Although Jaynes mentioned it in her thesis on the diffuse aurora, she did not do further research. Jaynes said in a statement, “I knew there was something. I knew it was different and unique.” However, as an assistant professor, he felt that this exceptional event needed further study and gave a copy of the video to graduate student Riley Troy.
Troy was deeply excavated, and his analysis is now published in the journal Geophysical Research Space Physics. Troy grew up in Alaska and called Aurora; “My heritage is a part of history,” so I was glad to have the opportunity to study something I had never done before. Knudsen’s video lasts two hours, during which time Troy counts 22 “eraser events.” Today Knudsen describes what he saw in this way; “There was a hole in the spread aurora. And then that hole will fill up in half a minute or so.
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