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25th June 2012

Photoset reblogged from science in a can with 401 notes

sciencesoup:

Light up the Sky

Put simply, auroras are powered by the solar wind and its interaction with the magnetic field that surrounds Earth. The rotation of our planet’s molten metal core generates electricity, which in turn generates our magnetic field. Solar winds, which are made up of charged particles such as electrons and ions, are constantly streaming out from the sun at 1.6 million km/h and pushing at the Earth’s magnetic field like wind pushing at a soap bubble, creating a distorted, comet-shaped field we call the “magnetosphere”. This solar wind generates enormous amounts of electricity as it brushes the magnetosphere. Eventually, this builds up to create an electric voltage that accelerates electrons to high speeds, pushing them up towards the poles—the strongest parts of the magnetic field. In the upper atmosphere, the high-energy electrons collide violently with gas atoms and release their energy as vibrant bands of red, blue and green light, creating an aurora.

Tagged: spacesciencephysicsit's electricdoot doot doot

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