‘Pillars of light’ appear across the US as airborne ice crystals reflect light to create what look like UFO abduction beams
There have been numerous reports of “UFO abduction beams” across the US.
Residents of several states have experienced atmospheric phenomena known as “pillars of light”, which some have compared to beams from extraterrestrial spacecraft.
Although unusual, the pillars are formed when light from the ground reflects millions of ice crystals suspended during extremely cold winter nights.
AccuWeather meteorologist David Samuhel said in a statement: “Usually ice crystals are small enough to remain suspended in the air and only form when temperatures are below freezing.
‘In most cases, temperatures are minus 10 to 20 degrees or less.’
Most of the pillars of light have been seen in the last week as a deep frost has spread across much of the country.
Elsewhere, including Minnesota, the low was minus six degrees.
The intense cold could be the cause of the pillars being brighter and taller than in previous years, as observed by witnesses.
When light rays strike horizontally aligned ice crystals floating in the air or falling slowly through it, pillars of light are created.
The crystals reflect light as they gently fall to the ground, resembling a string of tiny mirrors in the sky.
The light appears to emerge from different points above or below the natural source to observers, even if it is actually coming from ground level or higher in the sky, creating the beam of light.
Although the pillars may appear to be present, they are actually an optical illusion that takes the form of virtual images and objects that appear to be mirrored in mirrors behind the mirror plane.
For the formation of pillars of light, particular conditions must exist: the air must be almost completely windless and the temperature must be below zero.
In particularly calm conditions, the small hexagonal ice crystals spontaneously position themselves horizontally as they fall through the air. Without it, they would be disturbed.
The reflection from the light source extends into a column due to the presence of horizontal crystals at varying heights.
When temperatures are low enough for ice to develop in the sky, usually when ground-level temperatures drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, pillars of light are often observed in colder climates in the fall and winter.
Samuhel stated that pillars form in the presence of high pressure, but without a storm.
“There is no connection between the storms and the pillars,” he continued.
‘A storm system would disrupt pillar formation with wind and precipitation.
The beams of light are much smaller than the northern lights, which can cover miles of sky, so even though the pillars of light look like auroras, they don’t.
“Auroras are observed over a much wider area, as they occur many kilometers high in the atmosphere,” said Samuhel.
‘Light pillars occur close to the ground in the lowest levels of the atmosphere.’