A Statistical Analysis of STEVE

Bea Gallardo-Lacourt, Y. Nishimura, E. Donovan, D. M. Gillies, G. W. Perry, W. E. Archer, O. A. Nava, E. L. Spanswick

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48 Scopus citations


There has been an exciting recent development in auroral research associated with the discovery of a new subauroral phenomenon called STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement). Although STEVE has been documented by amateur night sky watchers for decades, it is as yet an unidentified upper atmosphere phenomenon. Observed first by amateur auroral photographers, STEVE appears as a narrow luminous structure across the night sky over thousands of kilometers in the east-west direction. In this paper, we present the first statistical analysis of the properties of 28 STEVE events identified using Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) all-sky imager and the Redline Emission Geospace Observatory (REGO) database. We find that STEVE occurs about 1 hr after substorm onset at the end of a prolonged expansion phase. On average, the AL index magnitude is larger and the expansion phase has a longer duration for STEVE events compared to subauroral ion drifts or substorms. The average duration for STEVE is about 1 hr, and its latitudinal width is ~20 km, which corresponds to ~¼ of the width of narrow auroral structures like streamers. STEVE typically has an equatorward displacement from its initial location of about 50 km and a longitudinal extent of 2,145 km.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9893-9905
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • STEVE's geomagnetic conditions
  • Steve is extremely narrow and observed an hour after substorm onset
  • first statistical analysis
  • optical analysis using THEMIS ASI
  • subauroral phenomenon


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