New evaluation confirms speculation for supply of mysterious auroral “dunes”

Revisiting the aurora “dunes”: A time-lapse video recorded by a Scottish aurora borealis hobbyist Graeme Whipps was used to find out the pace of the phenomenon at over 200 m/s.

A number of years in the past, beginner astronomers first noticed a uncommon kind of aurora nicknamed “the dunes” due to its luminous, rolling wave patterns. Final yr, astronomers proposed a doable underlying mechanism—a rise within the density of oxygen atoms—though the speculation was admittedly speculative. Now, a brand new evaluation by researchers on the College of Helsinki gives proof to substantiate that clarification, in response to a current paper printed within the journal AGU Advances.

Most individuals have a passing familiarity with the atmospheric phenomenon often called aurora borealis, aka the northern lights (or the southern lights if they seem within the southern hemisphere). The spectacular kaleidoscopic results are the results of charged particles from the Solar being dumped into the Earth’s magnetosphere, the place they collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules—an interplay that excites these molecules and makes them glow. Auroras usually current as shimmering ribbons within the sky, with inexperienced, purple, blue, and yellow hues. The lights are likely to solely be seen in polar areas as a result of the particles observe the Earth’s magnetic area traces, which fan out from the neighborhood of the poles.

Discoveries of doable new varieties of auroras are uncommon. Again in 2016, fans noticed a unique form of aurora that was seen at extra southern latitudes. The aurora seemed like a ribbon of pink or mauve mild, typically with “picket fence” columns of inexperienced mild passing by the ribbon.

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