India captures the rare Aurora lights on camera for the first time

Source: The post is based on the article “India captures the rare Aurora lights on camera for the first time” published in Livemint on 5th May 2023

What is the News?

The Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bengaluru has captured a rare occurrence of aurora in Ladakh, India, on camera. This is the first time that such an occurrence has been witnessed in Ladakh.

What are Auroras?

An aurora is a natural phenomenon which is characterized by a display of a natural-coloured (green, red, yellow or white) light in the sky.

Aurora is sometimes referred to as ‘polar light’. It is predominantly seen in regions of high altitudes like the Arctic and Antarctic. 

In the north, the display is called aurora borealis or northern lights. In the south, it is called aurora australis, or southern lights.

What makes Auroras happen?

Auroras are actually caused by the Sun. The Sun sends us more than heat and light; it sends lots of other energy and small particles our way. The protective magnetic field around Earth shields us from most of the energy and particles, and we don’t even notice them.

But the Sun doesn’t send the same amount of energy all the time. There is a constant streaming solar wind and there are also solar storms. During one kind of solar storm called a coronal mass ejection, the Sun burps out a huge bubble of electrified gas that can travel through space at high speeds.

When a solar storm comes toward Earth, some of the energy and small particles can travel down the magnetic field lines at the north and south poles into Earth’s atmosphere.

There, the particles interact with gases in the atmosphere resulting in beautiful displays of light in the sky. Oxygen gives off green and red lights. Nitrogen glows blue and purple.

Do other planets get auroras?

Auroras are not just something that happens on Earth. If a planet has an atmosphere and magnetic field, they probably have auroras. There are displays of auroras on Jupiter and Saturn.

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