The mysterious Hawaiian spiral that could have been the work of SpaceX

On January 18, a mysterious blue and glowing spiral was drawn over the sky of Hawaii. The image was captured by the Subaru telescope, belonging to the National Observatory of Japan and located next to the inactive volcano Mauna Kea, on the American island. Some viewers of the live YouTube broadcast detected it earlier than the observatory workers themselves. This could have led to many bizarre theories. However, as soon as the experts saw it, they knew that it was not something supernatural, but possibly the effects of the latest SpaceX launch.

In fact, it is not the first time that SpaceX has captured a spiral like that in the sky. It already happened in June 2022. Both launches took place in Florida, although in last year that curious sign appeared in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Regarding their origin, it seems that these spirals are formed by unused fuel columns that are discharged from the second rotating stage of the rockets before they fall into the sea. It happens with SpaceX, but in reality it could happen with any other rocket that divides its phases after launch in a similar way.

SpaceX draws a spiral in the sky

Ichi Tanaka, one of the Subaru telescope researchers, acknowledged in statements to The Guardian that, despite being working at the time the spiral was formed, he did not notice it. She was on other business, so he didn’t see her until someone sent him a screenshot of the broadcast on YouTube.

Knowing that a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket had just been launched from Cape Canaveral, he and his colleagues were in no doubt that it must have been related. This was explained in a post on the telescope’s Twitter account. And it was precisely in comments to said publication where a satellite tracker, named Scott Tilley, pointed out that the location of the spiral coincided with the place where the second phase of the rocket was located at that moment, which had started carrying a satellite military. But what exactly is that of the phases of a rocket?

Slowly starting engines

When a rocket is launched into space, not all of its components are launched simultaneously. In reality, these are activated little by little, following what is known as phases or stages.

The first consists of the motor that is initially turned on, to give the launch impulse to the rocket. Then, after reaching a certain distance, this stage separates and falls, leaving only the second stage, which contains a new motor that starts to continue on the programmed trajectory.

Both phases can be stranded in space or fall in a controlled way back to Earth, usually in the ocean. That’s what SpaceX usually does. However, it seems that before the fall, on some occasions, the second phase is capable of leaving its signature, in the form of a luminous spiral.

SpaceX is good at leaving marks in the sky. At least this spiral is only temporary, not like the trains of satellites that astronomers are so upset about.

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