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Earth’s aurora mystery of origin solved by ‘surfing’ electrons



Aurora borealis found in the northern hemisphere and aurora australis in the southern hemisphere have captivated humanity since the beginning of civilization. These natural light shows provide the closest opportunity to experience space weather – conditions caused by activity on the surface of the sun, and as such they follow solar cycle.

Auroras caused when electrons are emitted from the sun as part of ‘solar wind‘winds towards the Earth and is drawn down on the Earth’s magnetic field lines, where they then collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the ionosphere – the upper atmosphere between 50 and 370 miles (80 and 600 kilometers). The absorption of energy with oxygen and nitrogen ions causes them to move to an ̵

6;excited’ high energy state. To relax, the molecules radiate energy again as light, which is presented as bands with green and red shades in the sky – the aurora.


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