View of the Aurora Australis or southern lights

View of the Aurora Australis or southern lights

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Credit: GORDON GARRADD/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: The Aurora Australis or southern lights, photographed from New South Wales, Australia. Aurorae are luminous displays which appear in the night sky near the north & south magnetic poles. They occur at heights above 100 km & form rays, bands, arcs, streamers and curtains, often coloured red or green. Aurorae are caused by charged atomic particles from the Sun (the "solar wind") hitting the gases of the ionosphere. The particles are trapped by the Earth's magnetic field and channelled onto the poles. The brightest aurorae usually occur after a solar flare has thrown out a particularly large stream of charged particles.

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Keywords: atmospheric phenomenon, aurora australis, aurorae, earth science, earth's atmosphere, effects, electromagnetic effect, sciences, southern lights

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