Northern Lights-electron behind colourful auroras observed first time

  • A new satellite with advanced measuring tools has first time  directly observed the ‘Northern Lights’, the shower of electrons bouncing across Earth’s magnetic field, which causes the spectacular, colourful phenomenon. 
  • Although the reason behind these colourful auroras has long been hypothesized, yet scientists had never directly observed the underlying mechanism until now.
  • Green, red, and purple waltz across the night sky, blending into one another for a fantastic show widely considered one of the great wonders of the world.
  • Among a variety of auroras, pulsating auroral patches appearing at dawn are common but the physical mechanisms driving this aurora pulsation had so far not been verified through observation. 
  • According to the scientists, this wonder is caused by the hard-to-detect interaction between electrons and plasma waves. This interaction takes place in the Earth’s magnetosphere, the region surrounding the Earth in which the behaviours of the electric particles is usually governed by the planet’s magnetic field.
  • As per Satoshi Kasahara, associate professor at University of Tokyo in Japan, ‘Auroral substorms are caused by global reconfiguration in the magnetosphere, which releases stored solar wind energy.’ He said that the global reconfiguration often drives a specific type of plasma waves called chorus waves, to rain electrons into the upper atmosphere. This stabilizes the system and gives off a colourful light as the electrons fall. 

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