Aurora Borealis from Alaska

Aurora Borealis from Alaska

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Credit: MICHAEL GIANNECHINI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Aurora Borealis (or Northern Lights) seen from Alaska. The early Alaskan eskimos believed the lights were the playful souls of children on their way to heaven. Nowadays we know that the Aurorae occur when charged cosmic particles become trapped in the Earth's magnetic field. As the particles spiral toward the poles around the magnetic field lines, they collide with gas molecules in the upper atmosphere. This causes the molecules to ionise, leading to the flickering patterns of light seen here. Aurorae may be seen around both poles, the southern hemisphere display is known as the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights).

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Keywords: alaska, atmospheric phenomenon, aurora borealis, aurorae, earth science, earth's atmosphere, effects, electromagnetic effect, northern lights, sciences

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