Northern lights and comet PanSTARRS

Northern lights and comet PanSTARRS

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Caption: Northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, and comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4, bottom right). Discovered in June 2011 with the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, this comet reached perihelion on 10 March 2013. Auroral displays are caused by interactions between energetic charged particles from the Sun, and the Earth's atmosphere. Moving at 400-500 kilometres a second, the charged particles of the solar wind are drawn by Earth's magnetic field to the poles, where they collide with gas atoms and molecules, causing them to emit light. Green light is from oxygen atoms. Photographed in Iceland.

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Keywords: astronomical, astronomy, atmospheric phenomenon, atmostphere, aurora borealis, aurorae, auroral, c/2011 l4, comet, dark, electromagnetic, glow, glowing, green, iceland, light, magnetic, moon, night sky, night time, northern lights, oxygen emission, panstarrs, solar wind, space weather

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