A family out for a picnic was shocked recently by a large dark ring they saw hovering in the evening sky. TikToker Marla Daye captured this video. Here and in several other videos on her page, she worries that she may have seen a UFO, and insists that it was not a bird formation or a camera trick.
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Never fear, Marla! You were not witness to the first wave of an alien invasion. Rather, it was an uncommon but not unknown type of smoke ring formed by an electric or other explosion.
A ring like this is called a smoke vortex. Smoke vortices are caused by an explosive burst from a circular structure, such as a smokestack or even a volcanic shaft. They are often caused when an electrical transformer explodes, because those, too, are shaped like a cylinder. The explosive burst of smoke is shaped into a rotating “ring” that can float in the air for several minutes before dissipating. As one commenter pointed out, “It's the ‘vortex’ part of the "smoke vortex" that keeps the smoke from dissipating. also it does change shape and size, it's just hard to see [from this distance.]”
Another commenter explains that this shape is what is known as a “soliton” or a “self-reinforcing wave” that maintains its shape while it propagates at a constant velocity. Physics is astoundingly cool, isn’t it?
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It’s possible that this smoke vortex was caused by another exploding transformer, or perhaps it was the after-effect of some fireworks that people set off to celebrate the start of summer.