This week a photo started circulating online of a stunning spiral of blue light in the Northern lights and aurora borealis over the Alaska skies. The wild-looking spiral dancing through the sky was caused by a SpaceX rocket.
Northern light enthusiast, photographer, and aurora hunter Todd Salet spotted the light over the Delta Junction in Alaska, and the image captured is fantastic. The blue spiral looks like another galaxy, only near Earth, and it increased in size as it drew closer to the photographer.
According to the Associated Press, we’re looking at a “SpaceX spiral,” which happens when a rocket dumps its remaining fuel reserves as it heads back to Earth and lands safely on the return pad.
Several hours before the beautiful photo we now have, SpaceX sent its Falcon 9 rocket out on a mission to launch over 50 smaller satellites into orbit. The launch took place at the Vandenberg Space Force base in California.
Some stages of a SpaceX and Falcon 9 rocket return to Earth, while others burn up in the atmosphere. Before that process, they’ll apparently dump the fuel reserves, and if that happens at a high enough altitude, it can turn to ice and spiral into the effect shown above.
Unfortunately, no, this wasn’t a portal into another dimension. Either way, it’s fascinating and beautiful to look at. This isn’t the only photo of its kind, and we can expect more to appear as SpaceX rockets continue taking to the skies.