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Northern and Southern Lights

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Sarah Leister

on 4 May 2010

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Transcript of Northern and Southern Lights

Northern and Southern Lights The Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) are created by the Sun's solar winds. These winds are a super hot stream of plasma made up of protons and electrons. As the solar wind approches the Earth, the Earth's magnetic field sheilds off a lot of it. As it reaches the Earth, the magnetic field brings the plasma towards the North and South poles. When, the particals reach the atmosphere they slam into gas particles in the air. As they hit eachother, they create a glowing effect of different colors. An oval is created around the magnetic poles as the lights hit the Earth. The more force the particals and the wind have they create a larger oval. If there isn't very much force than the oval is thin and close to the north. During large solar storms, the oval is thicker and moves more towards the South. In the case where winds are very strong, the oval sometimes can strech across the Southern United States and Europe. The thinnest part of the oval is always on the sunny side of the Earth, and the thickest part of the oval is on the nighttime side. So you are more likely to see the lights after midnight. The colors of the Aurora Lights are created by the electrons and protons colliding with the gas molecules. Each partical of gas glows with a particular color depending on its electrical state (Ionized or neutral).
The main colors are green, red, purple, and blue.The lights are usually green because of its high energy. High altiude oxygen, about two hundred miles up, produce all red auroras. Oxygen that is at lower altitudes produces a bright yellowish-green color. Ionized nitrogen molecules create blue light and neutral nitrogen creates red.
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