Earlier this month, a mysterious glowing swirl-like formation was spotted in the sky by a Japanese telescope, bringing conspiracy theorists and astronomers out of the woodwork to learn more.
While those who often don hats of the tinfoil variety may have started coming up with bizarre excuses and reasonings for the spectacle, SpaceX launching a satellite into orbit seems to be the cause of such events occurring.
The Subaru Telescope eventually confirmed that the formation seen above a volcano in Hawaii was related to SpaceX launching a new satellite into orbit.
“The Subaru-Asahi Star Camera captured a mysterious flying spiral,” the Subaru Telescope tweeted. “The spiral seems to be related to the SpaceX company’s launch of a new satellite.”
The swirl was flying over Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in the Hawaiian islands, where the telescope is also stationed.
A timelapse from the telescope shows the mystery object flying through the night sky as a white orb, at first, before growing larger and emitting “arc-like” features. The orb then turned into a spiral object before the arcs continued to push out and turned into a ring-like shape.
In the morning of the same day the object appeared, Jan. 18, SpaceX launched a global-positioning satellite into medium orbit aboard one of its Falcon 9 rockets. The launch took place at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, and footage showed it blasting into the sky.
This was not the first time that a launch from SpaceX caused a weird or mysterious spectacle in the sky. In June, a photograph of similar spirals was taken in New Zealand, the same day a Falcon 9 took off from the same location in Florida, Space.com reported. In April, another swirl was caught by the Subaru Telescope following a Falcon 9 launch, Science Alert reported.
Though the swirls seem to be linked to SpaceX launching its reusable rockets, it is unknown what causes them to create the mysterious swirl.
SpaceWeather.com has theorized that it is created after a rocket expels its leftover fuel following the launch, though this has not been confirmed.