What causes the Northern Lights on earth?

Excited electrons inside atmospheric particles lose some of there energy as they calm down again; this energy is released in the form of the Northern Lights that we see.

kicks out huge amounts of charged particles(ions, protons, neutrinos) into space through colossal eruptions in a solar wind.

This solar wind is so chunk full of radiation that if it were to hit earth, all life on the planet would die out!

But thankfully, Earth provides us a shield against it. It’s a magnetic field. Think of it as an outer invisible spherical covering encapsulating the planet.

The solar wind is so strong that when it collides with the shield, it causes a response. As the harmful radiation and particles are deflected, a current is induced in the shield. Current is just moving electrons.

The current travels along the shield and collides with the gases in , causing electrons of the atmospheric gas particles to become excited. . Those gas electrons release energy to get back to the level of calmness they were before the electrons of the shield current hit them.

This energy is released in bursts of light which you see as the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis.

These lights are also seen at the South Pole, known as The Southern Lights or Aurora Australis.

Aurora is the scientific name of these lights. It comes from a Latin word for Dawn.

The color of the Lights depends on which gas particle is being excited.

If it’s Oxygen, the color will be greenish yellow or red. If Nitrogen then blue. And so on.

The Lights are only seen at the poles because the electrons travel along the lines of the shield. Below is a picture of the earth’s magnetic shield from NASA. Notice how the path of the electrons that travel along the lines comes closest to the earth at the poles. That’s where the electrons infiltrate the atmosphere and work their magic.

Otherwise, the rest of the shield extends many kilometres beyond the atmosphere.

The Northern Lights are a testament to the selflessness of who looks out for us so that we may live and let live. So the next time you see the Lights, rest assured it’s a sign of the Earth protecting you.

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