Learn about the science of the Aurora Borealis with iMinds insightful audio knowledge series. The aurora borealis, often referred to as the Northern Lights, is a natural light-show that appears in the sky around the north magnetic pole. Auroras can sometimes be seen in other places of the world, but not as clearly. In the southern hemisphere, the phenomenon is called “aurora australis”.
The aurora borealis occurs because of an interaction between solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field. When the sun’s gases explode, some of the particles are blown away in a phenomenon known as solar wind. The particles in the solar wind travel at speeds of over 600,000 miles per hour and take two to three days to reach the Earth. When these particles reach the Earth, some of the electrons and protons get caught in the Earth’s magnetic field. This happens most frequently in the Polar Regions of the Earth where the magnetic field is stronger. The electrons and protons get trapped in the atmosphere, and move in a giant oval shaped motion.
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