A strange spiral of flying blue light, with the appearance of a galaxy, was seen in the sky in Hawaii on the 18th.
The phenomenon was captured by a camera on Japan’s Subaru Telescope — one of 13 major observatories, from different countries, located atop the 4,200-meter-high Mauna Kea volcano.
The team explains that in the beginning it was just a point in space. then there was an image that looked like an arch. And it grew until it became a spiral.
Watch a time lapse video:
What could it be?
- Astronomers believe the spiral is related to a SpaceX rocket
- Frozen fuel ejected during launch can cause this phenomenon.
- A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Florida on the 18th, carrying a GPS satellite for the US Air Force.
- It wasn’t the first time a galaxy shape was associated with a Falcon 9.
- The phenomenon has already been dubbed by experts as “SpaceX spirals”.
Why does it happen?
The rocket’s first stage, which generates the most thrust from liftoff, cut off about three minutes after launch (and was recovered on Earth). The second stage then used its small engine to move to where it would release the satellite.
After it leaves its payload, the remaining fuel is jettisoned so that the second stage also returns safely. This process likely caused it to spin for a few minutes until it stabilized to land in the Pacific Ocean (on the company’s autonomous ship).
The result is a spiral cloud of frozen fuel crystals illuminated by sunlight.
it’s not the first time
In April 2022, the same camera subaru-asahi The Star in Hawaii captured a similar scene, also after a Falcon 9 launch. In June of the same year, a spiral was also seen off New Zealand. It’s no coincidence: generally, SpaceX rocket stages fall into the Pacific Ocean, so the region is privileged to observe these strange phenomena.
Frozen fuel has also created spectacular visual anomalies in other parts of the world. In March of last year, a Chinese rocket created a large spinning ball of light that struck an aurora borealis in Alaska. In October 2017, an even larger blue orb appeared over Siberia, created by Russian military missile tests.
Shortly after launch, the Falcon 9 often leaves strange patterns in the sky over Florida, like “space jellyfish.”
With information from Space, Space Weather and Live Science.