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We Finally Know How the Northern Lights Form

For decades, the exact science of how the northern lights form in our night sky has eluded experts. And we have finally proved just how these dazzling light shows happen.

Auroras appear in the upper atmosphere near the poles and they first were mentioned in texts thousands of years ago. But it wasn’t until the late 1800’s that a Norweigian physicist first made the connection between electric currents in Earth’s magnetic field and auroras in the sky.

And it’s only been since the beginning of the 20th century that scientists have known the basics of how auroras work. Today, we know that all auroras begin with solar activity. The sun puts out a continuous stream of charged particles called the solar wind.

They’re responsible for producing the most intense auroras. They disrupt the magnetic field lines, creating ripples that rebound back toward Earth known as Alfven waves. And this is where the mystery starts.

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