NORTHERN LIGHTS/AURORAS

A video of a group of men performing the traditional dance of Indian ‘garba’ under the stunning northern lights in Alaska has gone viral.

What are ‘Auroras’?

  • Auroras are a natural phenomenon caused by magnetic storms initiated by the Sun’s activity such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections.
  • They are visible as bright lights in the sky and are known as aurora borealis or northern lights near the North Pole and aurora australis or southern lights near the South Pole.
  • Typically, auroras are seen in regions closer to the Earth’s poles due to weaker magnetosphere, but during strong solar storms, they can be visible further away from the poles.

How ‘aurora’ forms?

  • The Sun constantly emits a solar wind, which is composed of charged particles and flows outward into the solar system.
  • When the solar wind encounters the Earth’s magnetic field, it can trigger a process called magnetic reconnection.
  • This explosive process allows charged particles from space to be accelerated into the atmosphere.
  • The charged particles from the solar wind are guided around the Earth’s magnetosphere and eventually become trapped in the magnetosphere’s long tail.
  • When magnetic reconnection occurs, these particles are accelerated towards the Earth’s poles.
  • Along the way, particles may collide with atoms and molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere, providing the atoms with extra energy that is released as a burst of light.
  • When we see the glowing aurora, we are witnessing a billion individual collisions that light up Earth’s magnetic field lines
  • During the winter, the northern regions have long periods of darkness, making it easier to see the Northern Lights.
  • In the summer, the polar regions have nearly continuous daylight, making observation difficult.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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