An ethereal whirlpool of light recently appeared in the night sky above Alaska, briefly stealing the limelight from a strong auroral display. But the bizarre, spiral-shaped object had nothing to do with the dancing polar lights.
Instead, the luminous vortex was just the latest example of what astronomers have nicknamed “SpaceX spirals,” which are becoming an increasingly common sight for stargazers across the globe. These spirals form when rocket fuel, which is ejected from the fast-spinning upper stages of Falcon 9 rockets, gets frozen in space. These frozen swirls then reflect sunlight back towards Earth, which makes them visible to stunned onlookers on the ground.
The spiral was spotted in the sky above Alaska on April 15 at around midnight local time, while vibrant green Northern Lights were already dancing across the night sky, Spaceweather.com reported. The strange whirlpool was was filmed by cameras at the University of Alaska’s Poker Flat Research Range near Fairbanks.
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