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Aurora : Earths Light Show

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Thanks for joining us on Space Videos as we enjoy the marvellous view of the Aurora as it lights up our planet.

Aurora or “northern lights” are caused by collisions
between fast-moving particles (electrons) from space
and the oxygen and nitrogen gas in our atmosphere.
These electrons originate in the magnetosphere, the
region of space controlled by Earth’s magnetic field.
As they rain into the atmosphere, the electrons impart
energy to oxygen and nitrogen molecules, making
them excited. When the molecules return to their
normal state, they release photons, small bursts of
energy in the form of light.
When billions of these collisions occur and enough
photons are released, the oxygen and nitrogen in the
atmosphere emit enough light for the eye to detect
them. This ghostly glow can light up the night sky in
a dance of colors. But since the aurora is much
dimmer than sunlight, it cannot be seen from the
ground in the daytime.
Why the different colors?
The color of the aurora depends on which gas is being excited
by the electrons and on how much energy is being exchanged.
Oxygen emits either a greenish-yellow light (the most
familiar color of the aurora) or a red light; nitrogen generally
gives off a blue light. The oxygen and nitrogen molecules
also emit ultraviolet light, which can only be detected by
special cameras on satellites.
Why does it take different shapes?
Scientists are still trying to answer this question. The shape of
the aurora depends on where in the magnetosphere the


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