World Facts

What Causes the Aurora?

What causes the famous phenomenon of the aurora borealis?

An aurora is a natural display of light in the sky which is seen in all the high latitudes area (around the Antarctic and Arctic). The aurora australis occurs in the southern hemisphere while the aurora borealis is noted in the northern hemisphere. The aurora can be an implausible light show which occurs when the gasses like nitrogen and oxygen collide with the charged particles from the sun which enter the earth’s atmosphere. The best place to enjoy this beautiful display includes northern Canada, Alaska, Finland, Sweden, and Norway among other areas. Aurora is way more visible during winter since the light pollution is usually low as compared to summer.

What Causes the Aurora?

The sun which sustains life on earth is at the center of the solar system, and as it rotates on its axis, its magnetic fields twist and distort. Once the magnetic fields are entwined together, they tend to rupture, and produce the sunspots. Normally, the sunspot occurs in a pair with the largest being numerous times the size of the diameter of planet earth. The temperature in the middle of the sun is approximately 15 million degrees Celsius, and as the temperature on the surface of the sun falls and rises, the sun bubbles and boils releasing the charged particles.

The solar wind sends the charged solar particles hustling across space. If our planet is on its path, the magnetic field interacts with the earth’s atmosphere. Once these particles collide with the molecules and atoms present in the earth’s atmosphere, it excites these atoms which light up creates the dramatic, colorful display called the aurora.

Why Does the Aurora Appear in the South and the North Hemispheres?

Usually, the earth is bombarded by debris and radiations from space which threatens the life on earth, but most of the times they are deflected by the earth’s magnetic field. The ionized particles from the sun travel 93 million miles towards planet earth where the magnetic south and north poles attract them.

What Causes the Auroras' Different Colors?

The colors which are associated with this phenomenon include white, orange, violet, blue, yellow, green, and pink. When the ionized particles collide with the nitrogen, they produce blue, violet, and red colors and Interactions with oxygen results in the production of green, yellow, and blue colors. The kind of collision also determines the type of color produced. Atomic nitrogen produces blue display while the collision with molecular nitrogen produces a pink color. The exhibition is also affected by altitude; violet and purple appear about 60 miles high, blue is displayed at 60 miles, green light about 150 miles high, while the red display is noted above 150 miles up.

Is Earth the Only Planet With Auroras?

Auroras appear on numerous other planets in the solar system including Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter, and Saturn. These worlds have strong magnetic fields and thick atmospheres. These auroras are entirely different from the one of the earth since they form under different conditions. On Mars, it is caused by the crust’s magnetic field since this planet has a fragile atmosphere while in Venus the aurora is generated by the stretched-out magnetic field.

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