Steve: The aurora-like light show you can help research | CNN

The name was borrowed from “Over the Hedge,” the 2006 DreamWorks animated film in which a group of animals are frightened by a towering leafy bush and decide to refer to it as Steve. (“I’m a lot less scared of Steve,” a porcupine declares.). Scientists later developed an acronym to go with the name: Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.

Steve is visually different from auroras, which are caused by electrically charged particles that glow when they interact with the atmosphere and appear as dancing ribbons of green, blue or red. Steve — if it is caused by SAID — subauroral ion drift, or SAID – is made up of mostly the same stuff. But it shows up at lower latitudes and appears as a streak of mauve-colored light accompanied by distinctive green bands, often referred to as a picket fence.