"Most Popular Image of 2013" --A Spectacular Meteor Streaking Through the Aurora Borealis
Follow the Daily Galaxy
Add Daily Galaxy to igoogle page AddThis Feed Button Join The Daily Galaxy Group on Facebook Follow The Daily Galaxy Group on twitter
 

« The Largest Structure in the Universe Spans 4 Billion Light Years --"Nixes Accepted Theory" (2013 Most Popular) | Main | "Human Brain Develops in Distinct Stages of Genetic Activity" --New Discovery »

December 27, 2013

"Most Popular Image of 2013" --A Spectacular Meteor Streaking Through the Aurora Borealis

 

6a00d8341bf7f753ef019b01e785de970b-800wi

 

The glorious pyrotechnics of the "Northern Lights" get their start about 93 million miles away, on the sun. An aurora borealis (aurora australis in the Southern Hemisphere) is precipitated by explosions on the surface of the sun, sometimes starting as solar flares, according to Robert Nemiroff, an astrophysicist at Michigan Technological University.

These flares release a burst of charged particles, or plasma, into the solar system. When they come our way, they whack into the Earth's magnetosphere, which is made up of its own stream of charged particles. That collision causes particles to break free of the magnetosphere and cascade toward the Earth's magnetic field lines, usually traveling toward the poles.

"The aurorae happen when these high-energy particles bap into atoms and molecules in the Earth's atmosphere, typically oxygen," Nemiroff said. Light is emitted as part of the reaction. Those particles can also wreak havoc. "The plasma cloud can cause the Earth's magnetic field to fluctuate," Nemiroff said. "At worst, that can knock out satellites and even power grids."

"We are nearing the solar maximum, which is when the sun is at its most active," he said. Solar maximums come around every 11 years, but no one knows why. "You can have solar flares and aurorae during the solar minimum, but we get more now because the sun's magnetic field is tangled up and poking through the surface, releasing plasma," said Nemiroff.

The Daily Galaxy via Michigan Technological University

Image credit: Shannon Bileski of Signature Exposures captured this beautiful photograph at Patricia Beach in Canada.

Comments


Post a comment

« The Largest Structure in the Universe Spans 4 Billion Light Years --"Nixes Accepted Theory" (2013 Most Popular) | Main | "Human Brain Develops in Distinct Stages of Genetic Activity" --New Discovery »




1


2


3


4


5


6


7


8





9


11


12


13


14


15

Our Partners

technology partners

A


19


B

About Us/Privacy Policy

For more information on The Daily Galaxy and to contact us please visit this page.



E