Sun  ID: 12040

NASA Observes Auroras Across Canada

The dancing lights in the video are the aurora borealis or Northern Lights. These auroras are at their most dynamic during geomagnetic storms—often the result of solar storms called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, that originate from the sun. The aurora shown above occurred as the result of a CME that erupted from the sun early on Mar. 15, 2013. Some 46 hours later, early on Mar. 17, 2013, this CME struck Earth’s magnetic field, depositing and storing energy in Earth’s magnetosphere. When this energy was released, charged particles from the magnetosphere were sent rushing down towards Earth’s atmosphere where they collided with neutral particles, creating the brilliant aurora.

Rather than being caused by a CME, this week’s auroras are the result of a high-speed solar wind stream flowing from what’s called a coronal hole—an area where the sun’s magnetic field opens and thus has lower density allowing solar material to escape. Once it arrives, a high-speed solar wind stream effects the magnetosphere similar to a CME, sending charged particles rocketing down towards Earth’s surface, where they collide with the atmosphere and create glowing auroras.

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Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Producer
Sarah Frazier (ADNET): Lead Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/CSA/University of California, Berkeley/University of Calgary/NSF

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SVS >> Space Weather
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> Heliophysics
NASA Science >> Sun
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions >> Ionosphere/Magnetosphere Dynamics >> Aurorae
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions >> Solar Activity >> Coronal Mass Ejections

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version