Earth Can Make Auroras Without Solar Activity

“We have found a totally new way that particle energy can be transferred from Earth’s own atmosphere out to the magnetosphere and back again, creating a giant feedback loop in space.”

Spaceweather.com

Sept. 24, 2021: No solar storms? No problem. Earth has learned to make its own auroras. New results from NASA’s THEMIS-ARTEMIS spacecraft show that a type of Northern Lights called “diffuse auroras” comes from our own planet–no solar storms required.

Diffuse auroras look a bit like pea soup. They spread across the sky in a dim green haze, sometimes rippling as if stirred by a spoon. They’renot as flamboyant as auroras caused by solar storms. Nevertheless, they are important because they represent a whopping 75% of the energy input into Earth’s upper atmosphere at night. Researchers have been struggling to understand them for decades.

Above: Diffuse auroras and the Big Dipper, photographed by Emmanuel V. Masongsong in Fairbanks, AK

“We believe we have found the source of these auroras,” says UCLA space physicist Xu Zhang, lead author of papers reporting the results in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics

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