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NOVA ScienceNOW

Northern Lights

  • By Lexi Krock
  • Posted 07.01.08
  • NOVA scienceNOW

Auroras, those luminous, deeply mysterious curtains of light that grace polar skies at night, occur when a space weather event energizes the magnetic field shielding the planet. This process churns up electrons and protons, causing them to smash into the upper atmosphere’s mix of gases. In this slide show of auroral displays, view the spectacular result of such collisions.

Launch Interactive Printable Version

See a gallery of auroras above Earth and other planets, and hear the eerie sounds they make.

Credits

Images

(borealis over Finland)
© Pekka Sakki/epa/Corbis;
(borealis over Iceland)
© Torleif Svensson/Corbis;
(borealis over Alaska)
Paul A. Souders/Corbis;
(australis over Antarctica)
© NASA; (Earth at night) © W. Sullivan/Photo Researchers;
(ultraviolet image)
© NASA/Photo Researchers;
(North Pole from space)
NASA/Photo Researchers;
(Jupiter aurora, Saturn aurora)
© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope;
(animated auroras)
© NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and The University of Iowa

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  • Space Storms: Expert Q&A

    Vassilis Angelopoulos, team leader of NASA's THEMIS mission to study auroras, answers viewer questions.

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