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Isn't it Romantic?

The amazing color displays and formations of the Northern Lights (also called "aurora borealis") are produced by basically three things:

1. The solar wind - a continuous flow of the Sun's magnetic field carrying charged particles (electrons and protons) from the Sun's atmosphere far out into the solar system.

Click for more information. 2. The "magnetosphere" - the area surrounding the Earth containing its magnetic field. The magnetic field is concentrated at the north and south magnetic poles.

3. The Earth's atmosphere - the protective shield of gases that surrounds the planet.

Electrically charged particles come from space (1) and enter the Earth's magnetosphere (2). They accelerate along the Earth's magnetic field lines which concentrate at the poles. The particles then plunge into the upper atmosphere (3) where they collide with the gases that surround the Earth.

These collisions create energy, and the excess energy is given off in the form of light emissions. We call these light emissions the Northern Lights.

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Library: Northern Lights, Arctic
Environment / Atmosphere
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Arctic Maps & Weather Reports


Double-click any unlinked word DICTIONARY: Just "double-click" any unlinked word on this page for the definition from Merriam-Webster's Student Electronic Dictionary at Word Central.
Arctic Library ARCTIC LIBRARY & GLOSSARY: Check this section for an index of the rest of the things you really need to know about the Arctic.
All sorts of Arctic Maps ARCTIC MAPS & WEATHER REPORTS: Maps of the Northwest Passage, explorers' routes, iceberg sources, Nunavut, the Arctic by treeline, temperature...
Links to related sites. ARCTIC LINKS: Even more information! Links to sites related to the Arctic and "Iceberg: the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots".
A Guide to Arctic Sunrise and Sunset GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?

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