Yet, little is known about the Northern Lights. Spectacular looking, great effects on communication, but clueless as to the energy source — outside of coming from the Sun.
Researchers have finally found the source, though, through satellites. Then the fun stuff started:
In March, the satellites detected a burst of Northern Lights over Alaska and Canada. During the two-hour light show, the satellites measured particle flow and magnetic fields from space.
To scientists’ surprise, the geomagnetic storm powering the auroras raced 400 miles in a minute across the sky. Angelopoulos estimated the storm’s power was equal to the energy released by a magnitude 5.5 earthquake.
“Nature was very kind to us,” Angelopoulos said.
Although researchers have suspected the existence of wound-up bundles of magnetic fields that provide energy for the auroras, the phenomenon was not confirmed until May, when the satellites became the first to map their structure some 40,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.
We knew that, didn’t we?