SOHO / ESA / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SOHO / ESA / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Aurora formation. Composite image showing the cause of the aurora borealis (northern lights, right). At left, a coronal mass ejection (CME) is seen erupting from the Sun. The charged particles from the CME impact the atmosphere at the poles, as they are channeled there by the Earth's magnetic field. They are seen as the bright ring around the North Pole in the satellite image at centre. When the charged particles collide with atmospheric gases, they excite them, causing them to glow. The image of the Sun is a composite of two SOHO images. The central image was taken by the VIS instrument on the Polar satellite. The aurora was photographed from Alaska, USA.
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