A “mysterious” flying spiral spotted by the Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii earlier this month could be related to a SpaceX satellite launch earlier in the day, scientists speculated.
Footage captured by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and Asahi Shimbun using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii shows a small, bright dot among the stars at around 4:21 am local time on January 18.
The dot grows into a spiral, eventually appearing like a “mysterious whirlpool,” according to the Subaru Telescope YouTube account.
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The Subaru Telescope said on Twitter that: “The spiral seems to be related to the SpaceX company’s launch of a new satellite.”
SpaceX launched the GPS III Space Vehicle 06 mission from Cape Canaveral at 7:24 am local time (2:24 am Honolulu time) on January 18, the company said.
Space.com reported that similar spirals had been seen following SpaceX launches using the Falcon 9 rocket in other locations, including New Zealand.
Space watchers said the shape appeared as unneeded fuel was vented during the rocket’s descent into the ocean, the report added.