Shannon Bileski took this picture on March 29, 2013 at Patricia Beach in Canada. It shows a bright meteor streaking through a sky filled with the green glow of the aurora borealis. Shannon Bileski was out at the beach attempting to witness and photograph the northern lights with others from a photography club and an astronomy club.
How Do Aurorae (Northern and Southern Lights) Occur?
As solar particles from an incoming Coronal Mass Ejection (or CME) move into Earth’s magnetosphere they travel around to its back side — or night side, since it is on the opposite side from the Sun — along the magnetic field lines.
When these magnetic field lines reconnect in an area known as the magnetotail, energy is released and it sends the particles down onto Earth’s poles, and sometimes even lower latitudes. As the particles bombard oxygen and nitrogen in the upper atmosphere, the atoms release a photon of light that we see as the beautiful colors of the aurora.
Brown dwarfs often get a bad rap for being “failed stars” or “sub-stellar objects,” but in light of new research they may finally be known as “over-achieving planets.” Scientists have used a radio antenna array in Europe to detect evidence that some brown dwarfs may glow with powerful aurorae.
We know an aurora as the beautiful and sometimes dramatic glow that appears at high latitudes when the sun’s highly-charged particles interact with our planet’s global magnetosphere. The solar wind and explosive events like coronal mass ejections (CMEs) will carry solar plasma (primarily energetic protons) out to the Earth’s orbit. Often, they will interact with the geomagnetic field and spiral down toward the poles (where the magnetic field is directed). On interacting with the atmosphere, light is generated, producing the aurora we know and love.
However, before the particles are absorbed by the atmosphere, creating auroral light, spiraling plasma will generate radio emissions that can be detected. It stands to reason that any planetary body with a global magnetic field should have their own aurorae and also generate a radio hum. Indeed, astronomers are very familiar with aurorae on Jupiter and Saturn — Jovian auroral displays known to be 100 times more intense than anything Earth’s atmosphere can generate and their associated radio emissions can be studied.
But what about exoplanets and brown dwarfs? Can their aurorae also be detected? …
Amazing ‘Earth from Space’ Views in New TV Documentary
by Miriam Kramer
Dazzling views of planet Earth from space are the star of a new PBS documentary that aims to show the interconnected systems of the planet from a truly out-of-this-world perspective.
The NOVA documentary “Earth from Space,” which will air next week on Feb. 13, combines photos, computer models, video and other data to create a cohesive image of how a weather or geological event on one side of the world could affect life on the other side of the planet.
Using satellites to observe Earth from space, and making that information available to the public is changing how people view the world…
On a cold February night in Poker Flat, Alaska, a team of scientists will wait patiently for the exotic red and green glow of an aurora to illuminate the sky. Instead of simply admiring the view, this group from NASA Goddard of Greenbelt, Md., and The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, Calif. will launch a sounding rocket up through the Northern Lights. The rocket could launch as early as the night of Feb. 2, 2013, but the team has a two-week window in order to find the perfect launch conditions.
Armed with a series of instruments developed specifically for this mission, the VISIONS (VISualizing Ion Outflow via Neutral atom imaging during a Substorm) rocket will soar high through the arctic sky to study the auroral wind, which is a strong but intermittent stream of oxygen atoms from Earth’s atmosphere into outer space. Although the rocket will survive only fifteen minutes before splashing down in the Arctic Ocean, the information it obtains will provide answers to some long-standing questions, says Doug Rowland, who is the VISIONS principal investigator at Goddard…
The dazzling Aurora Borealis over Høgtuva Mountain in Norway. The Earth’s magnetic field funnels particles from the solar wind down over the planet’s polar regions. More than 80 km above the ground, these particles collide with atoms and molecules of gas in our atmosphere, causing them to glow in the characteristic colours of green and pale red for oxygen and crimson for nitrogen.
Solar maximum is still a year away. This month sky watchers got a taste of things to come when a powerful flare sparked Northern Lights over the United States as far south as Arkansas, Colorado and California.
Major X1.4 Solar Flare and Earth Directed CME Active Region 11520 unleashed a Major X1.4 at 16:47 UTC July 12th. Associated with this blast was a Strong R3 Radio Blackout/Fade Out over Central America. As this active region was earth-facing a very strong Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is now Earth-Bound with impact projected late July 14-Early July 15th where strong Geomagnetic storms will be possible.
New Aurora Pictures: Solar Storms Trigger Northern Lights
by National Geo staff
Northern lights dance over the Lyngan Alps in a picture taken Tuesday night near Tromsø, Norway. The brilliant auroras were triggered by a coronal mass ejection, or CME, that hit our planet Tuesday morning. A CME is a cloud of superheated gas and charged particles hurled off the sun.
When a CME hits Earth, the charged solar particles can interact with gases in our atmosphere to produce the northern and southern lights. Sky-watchers were put on alert for intense auroras Tuesday night through Wednesday morning…
inothernews: WHOA-RP SPEED On September 26, a large solar coronal mass ejection smacked into planet Earth’s magnetosphere, producing a severe geomagnetic storm and widespread auroras. The image above was captured from Kvaløya Island outside Tromsø in northern Norway. Though the auroral rays are parallel, perspective makes them appear to radiate from a vanishing point at the zenith. (Photo: Fredrick Broms / Northern Lights Photography via NASA APOD)