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PEKKA PARVIAINEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PEKKA PARVIAINEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Aurora Borealis. Spectacular green-white display of the Aurora Borealis (or Northern Lights) as seen in Finland. 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 flickering patterns of coloured light as seen here. Eskimos once believed these lights were the playful souls of children on their way to heaven. Aurorae may be seen around both poles; the southern hemisphere display is known as the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights).
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