We have often seen the photos of the magnificently pleasing green lights in the night sky. Known as the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, these occur in the North and North East side of UK and are a sight to behold. While there have been so many theories about their occurrence, geophysicists from the University of Tokyo have observed the occurring in much detail. They have studied the mechanisms in formations of these lights which grace the night sky at a particular timing.
How Does The Aurora Form?
The light streamers are a result of a collision between the particles from the sun with the atoms in the present atmosphere. So the aurora rings are formed when the particles from the sun collide with the earth as they pass its magnetic field. These collisions result in bursts of light which are known as photons. These particles are naturally charged since they are from the sun’s flare. A deeper understanding of them suggests that the light starts with a type of plasma wave called chorus waves. The magnetic reconfiguration causes these waves to rain electrons into the upper atmosphere which are responsible for the colourful light.
Until now there was no definite proof to these reasonings but in a first, these experts observed the scattering of electrons by developing a sensor. This sensor can observe the interactions between electrons and the chorus waves. It was fitted aboard the Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) satellite which was launched by the JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) in December 2016. This ERG satellite will now be used to study other similar occurrences related to the magnetosphere. The lead author of the paper, Satoshi Kasahara said, “Kasahara said, “By analyzing data collected by the ERG spacecraft more comprehensively, we will reveal the variability and further details of plasma physics and resulting atmospheric phenomena, such as auroras.”
Where and When to See the Northern Lights?
This phenomenon occurs in the night sky typically during the Equinox and Solstice in March/April and September/October. They are seen from 9 pm to 6 am if there are no cloudy skies, but a total darkness is recommended to observe them clearly. Iceland remains the best place on the Earth to witness these magical skies.