There have been conflicting explanations as to exactly what they are and how they’re formed, but the halo-appearing visual effect that have been forming at night over helicopters have been named after two Allied soldiers killed in action (KIA), as reported by The Daily Mail (of London, England) on July 26, 2013.
Called one of the most “beautiful things you’ll ever see in a war zone,” photojournalist Michael Yon has taken a number of photographs of Allied helicopters in the Afghan Theater of Operations showing what appear to be angelic halos which Yon has tagged the Kopp-Etchells Effect.
The naming of the visual effect is in tribute to Corporals Ben Kopp (U.S. Army) and Joseph Etchells (British Army) who were both killed in combat in the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province of southern Afghanistan during the Summer of 2009.
At the time of their deaths, the fallen heroes were just 22 and 21 years old, respectively.
There has been no definitive explanation what causes the Kopp-Etchells Effect, but theories range from “a result of static electricity created by friction as materials of dissimilar material strike against each other” to “the extreme speed of the blades moved dust particles so fast that they burned up like meteors in the atmosphere.”