5 things you need to know about auroras
These colorful beams appearing in the night sky in some regions of Earth have always amazed people. While many legends and tales surround this magnificent phenomenon, there are some scientific facts about auroras everyone needs to know.
#1 What causes the polar lights?
Heat and energy produced by the hydrogen atoms of the sun leave the star in large clouds of electrically charged particles. It takes the clouds around 18 hours to reach the Earth's atmosphere, where they collide with the molecules of oxygen and nitrogen. After the collisions, these particles release photons which create the light.
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#2 While commonly known as 'northern lights', auroras also appear in the Southern Hemisphere
#3 Auroras can be seen from space
Polar lights form in rings centered over our planet's magnetic poles, which can be clearly seen from the orbit.
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#4 What color are polar lights?
The color of the auroras depends on the particles electrons from the sun collide with. Interacting with nitrogen usually results in blue light, while colliding with oxygen creates green and red light. All these colors can blend, producing pink, white or purple light. The most common color of the polar lights is greenish-yellow.
#5 Polar lights make noises
In 2012, researchers from Aalto University in Finland recorded the noises the aurora borealis can make. It sounds like claps or someone's banging on a pipe. These noises are quite soft, so one has to listen very carefully to hear them.
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