Aurora Definition and 4 Discussions

An aurora (plural: auroras or aurorae), sometimes referred to as polar lights (aurora polaris), northern lights (aurora borealis), or southern lights (aurora australis), is a natural light display in the Earth's sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic).
Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind. These disturbances alter the trajectories of charged particles in the magnetospheric plasma. These particles, mainly electrons and protons, precipitate into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere). The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emit light of varying colour and complexity. The form of the aurora, occurring within bands around both polar regions, is also dependent on the amount of acceleration imparted to the precipitating particles.
Most of the planets in the Solar System, some natural satellites, brown dwarfs, and even comets also host auroras.

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  1. dykuma

    A A mathematical description of the physics behind Aurora?

    Maybe a bit of an odd question (not really sure where it would belong on this site to be honest), but I was wondering if anyone can explain, or at least knows of a source that explains in a quantitative way, the physics behind aurora? Now I've seen websites like this that discuss conceptually...
  2. Solomei

    Aurora colors in a bottle

    I would say that this looks more like Aurora Australis. What is the reason for these changing colors?
  3. R

    B Do all auroras occur in circles?

    Do the formation of auroras always occur in circles/ovals/ellipses?? What causes the shape of their formation?
  4. M

    Magnetic Mirror and Auroras

    So I've been thinking about how the magnetic fields from the Earth create a magnetic mirror which accelerates the the particles in the atmosphere causing them to ionize and thus produce the auroras we see. But it is curious to me that they can only be seen in the upper most northern and southern...