Thursday, April 28, 2016

What are the Aurora Borealis and Australis?

Aurora Borealis and Australis

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     These two events, the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis, are one of the most majestic events to occur in the sky of the northern and southern hemisphere. These lights are beautiful and have a special meaning to them in some cultures. What are they and how are they made?
     The Auroras are a product of solar radiation interacting with the free electrons in the ionosphere. When the radiation effects the ionosphere, the ionized atoms release energy in a form of light. The energy is then moved about because of the energy moving from a high to low gradient. Energy is constantly being introduced into the ionosphere but these events only occur in the northern and southern magnetic poles.
     The reason why this only happens in the northern and southern poles is because of where the north and south poles are located. They are not perfectly placed at the northern and southern end of the Earth, in fact, they are close to being 15 degrees off from the physical poles. This can give the effect that the lights can happen outside the poles, however, only to a certain point. Where the poles are is where the greatest magnetism is at, thus the electrons and charged ions are energized the most over the poles and that is where the solar radiation hits the most during any point of the night when the sun is not visible.

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