New information from five satellites launched last spring suggests the dancing streaks and colourful sheets are caused by storms in space about one-third of the way to the moon.
The storms are caused by solar wind — a current of charged particles coming from the sun — that blows into the earth’s magnetic field.
When that wind is strong and the orientation of the Earth to the sun is just right, the magnetic field gets stretched far out into space.
But when it stretches too far, it twangs back like a rubber band, releasing energy that creates a magical spectacle for earthbound observers.
The research by scientists from NASA working with Canadians at universities in Calgary and Edmonton was published online today in the journal Science.
The Canadian Press
In the north I’ve seen the star we are within that only a few miles south is not seen. I’m saying there’s a part of wonder there. Shaping me, the first thing is awe, a neurological clap of thunder reminding me that we are exquisitely primitive. That’s why I like this:
“In all your getting, get understanding.”