HomeSpace NewsDo extraterrestrial auroras occur on other planets?

Do extraterrestrial auroras occur on other planets?

If you’ve been lucky enough to glimpse the northern lights, it’s an experience you’ll likely never forget. These dancing green, red and purple ribbons of light periodically illuminate the night sky from the Arctic Circle down to mid-northern latitudes as far south as New York and London. Similar lights also occur in the Southern Hemisphere, radiating out from the area around Antarctica.

The eerie glow is a phenomenon called an aurora, named after the ancient Greek goddess of dawn. But the origin of an aurora isn’t divine; rather, they are caused by energetic solar winds bombarding Earth’s upper atmosphere. As photons (opens in new tab) from these solar winds interact with atmospheric gases, they light up in brilliant colors and are pulled into fantastic shapes along our planet’s magnetic lines. “Oxygen is red and green, and the blue or purple is nitrogen,” James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), told Live Science.

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