What causes the displays of lights called auroras

what causes the displays of lights called auroras

Northern Lights: What Causes the Aurora Borealis & Where to See It

The aurora borealis and aurora australis are a phenomenon of luminescence and brightness that is generated in the night sky in areas near the pole. Its name comes from the Roman goddess 'Aurora'. Feb 15,  · Some Inuit believed that the spirits of their ancestors could be seen dancing in the flickering aurora. In Norse mythology, the aurora was a fire Author: Eleanor Imster.

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, offer an entrancing, dramatic, magical display that fascinates all who see it — but just what causes this dazzling natural phenomenon? At the center of our solar system lies the sun, the yellow star that sustains life on our planet.

The sun's many magnetic fields distort and twist as our parent star rotates on its axis. When these fields become knotted together, they burst and create so-called sunspots. Usually, these sunspots occur in pairs; the largest can be several aurorxs the size of Earth's diameter. Related: How to See the Northern Lights. At the center of the sun, the temperature is 27 million degrees Fahrenheit 15 million degrees Celsius. As the temperature on its surface rises and falls, the sun boils and bubbles.

Particles escape from the star from the sunspot regions on the surface, hurtling particles of plasma, known as solar wind, into space. It takes these winds around 40 hours to reach Earth. When they do, they can cause the dramatic displays known as the aurora borealis. Auroras occur not only on Earth, but also on other worlds in our solar system and perhaps exoplanets as well. The gas giants in our solar system Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and What is ansi code on light bulbs each have thick atmospheres and strong magnetic fields, and each have auroras — although these auroras are a little different from Earth's, given they are formed under different conditions.

Venus has an aurora generated by its stretched-out magnetic field a "magnetotail". Mars, which has too thin an atmosphere for global auroras, experiences local auroras due to how long will it take for ringworm to go away fields in the crust.

The sunspots and solar storms that cause the most magnificent displays of the northern lights occur roughly every 11 years.

The solar cycle peaked inbut it was the weakest solar maximum dusplays a century. Since record-keeping of the ebb and flow of the sun's activity began inthere have been 22 full cycles.

Researchers monitor space weather events because they have the potential to what is the surface of mercury like spacecraft in orbit, knock out power grids and communications infrastructure on Earth, and amp up normal displays of the northern and southern lights. Scientists are also investigating how fluctuations in the displwys activity affect weather on our planet. Earth is constantly bombarded with debris, radiation and other magnetic waves from space that could threaten the future of life as we know it.

Most of the time, the planet's own magnetic field does an excellent job displyas deflecting these potentially harmful rays and particles, including those from the sun. Particles discharged from the sun travel 93 million miles around million km toward Earth before they are drawn irresistibly toward the magnetic north and south poles. As the particles pass through the Earth's magnetic shieldthey mingle with atoms and molecules of oxygen, nitrogen and other elements that result in the dazzling display of lights in the sky.

The auroras in Earth's Northern Hemisphere are lignts the aurora borealis. Their southern counterpart, which light up the Antarctic skies in the Southern Hemisphere, are known as the aurora australis. The colors most often associated with the aurora borealis are pink, green, cauees, blue, violet, and occasionally orange and white. Typically, when the particles collide with oxygen, yellow and green are produced.

Interactions with nitrogen produce red, violet, and occasionally blue colors. The type of collision also makes a difference to the colors that appear in the sky: atomic nitrogen causes blue displays, while molecular nitrogen results in purple.

The colors are also affected by altitude. The green lights typically in areas appear up to miles km high, red above miles; blue usually appears at up to 60 miles These lights may manifest as a static band of light, or, when the solar flares are particularly strong, as a dancing curtain of ever-changing color.

For millennia, the lights have been the source of speculation, superstition and awe. Cave paintings in France thought to date back 30, years have illustrations of the natural phenomenon. In more superstitious times, the northern lights were thought to be a harbinger of war or destruction, before people really calldd what causes them. Many classic philosophers, authors and astronomers, including Aristotle, Descartes, Goethe and Halley, refer to the northern lights in their work. As early asthe astronomer Galileo Galilei used how to clean asko dishwasher filter name aurora borealis to describe them, taking the name of the mythical Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name what foods have protein and fiber wind of the north, Boreas.

The aurora australis, or the southern lights, occur around the south polar region. But, since the South Pole is even more inhospitable than the North Pole, it is often trickier to view the southern lights. The best places to see the northern lights are Alaska and northern Canada, but visiting these vast, open expanses is not always easy. Norway, Sweden and Finland also offer excellent calped points.

During periods of particularly active solar flares, the lights can be seen as far south as the top of Scotland and even northern England. On rare occasions, the lights are seen farther south. They were first observed by European settlers in New England in In "Historical Storms of New England," published inSidney Cajses wrote, "May 15,the more hwat and brilliant aurora borealis was first observed here as far as any record or tradition of that period inform us, and it is said that in England it was first noticed only three years before this date.

In December of the same year the aurora again appeared, how to make football pylons the people became greatly alarmed, not dreading it so much as a means of destruction but as precursor of the fires of the last great day and a sign of coming dangers.

The northern lights are always present, but winter is usually the best time to see them, due to lower levels of light pollution and the clear, crisp air. September, October, March and April are some of the best months to view the aurora borealis. The lights are known to be xuroras and more active for up to two days after sunspot activity is at its highest.

Several agencies, such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationalso monitor solar activity and issue aurora alerts when they are expected to put on a particularly impressive show. Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more!

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Particles and polar attraction

When the atmosphere of the earth is strike by the charged particles from the sun, then electrons move to a higher energy state. When these electrons come back to a lower energy state then they. Question: What Causes The Displays Of Lights Called Auroras? (Select All That Apply.)cold Temperaturessolar Disturbancesexcess Sunlight Focused Through Holes In The Ozone Layerthe Recombination Of Ions And Electrons In Earth's Upper Atmospheredisturbances In Earth's Magnetic Field This problem has been solved! Nov 11,  · Dear Aly, B, D and E. Charged particles from the sun stream toward the Earth at a million miles per hour. The Earth's magnetic field dispurses the .

If you're ever near the North or South Pole, you may be in for a very special treat. Frequently there are beautiful light shows in the sky. These lights are called auroras. If you're near the North Pole, it is called an aurora borealis or northern lights.

If you're near the South Pole, it is called an aurora australis or the southern lights. This beautiful view of the aurora was taken from the International Space Station as it crossed over the southern Indian Ocean on September 17, The Sun sends us more than heat and light; it sends lots of other energy and small particles our way. The protective magnetic field around Earth shields us from most of the energy and particles, and we don't even notice them.

But the Sun doesn't send the same amount of energy all the time. There is a constant streaming solar wind and there are also solar storms. During one kind of solar storm called a coronal mass ejection , the Sun burps out a huge bubble of electrified gas that can travel through space at high speeds. When a solar storm comes toward us, some of the energy and small particles can travel down the magnetic field lines at the north and south poles into Earth's atmosphere.

There, the particles interact with gases in our atmosphere resulting in beautiful displays of light in the sky. Oxygen gives off green and red light.

Nitrogen glows blue and purple. The green bands of light in the sky are an aurora australis, an aurora at the south pole.

They sure do! Auroras are not just something that happen on Earth. If a planet has an atmosphere and magnetic field, they probably have auroras. We've seen amazing auroras on Jupiter and Saturn. These swirls of red light are an aurora on the south pole of Saturn. Want to make some aurora art? Check out this pastel aurora activity! What Is an Aurora? What makes this happen?

Even though auroras are best seen at night, they are actually caused by the Sun. More about the sun! Visit our sun gallery! How old is the sun? Why does it shine? If you liked this, you may like: What Is Space Weather?

Bad space weather cancels pigeon races! More Less.

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