Sun’s energetic particles met with magnetic field of the Earth and stirred up an incredible display of northern lights. A NASA satellite has captured this stunning view just after the winter solstice.
NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite clicked a view of the aurora borealis using the “day—night band” (DNB) of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on December 22.
The northern lights cover British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut and Northwest Territories, areas that often fall under the auroral oval.
Dim light signals such as auroras, airglow, gas flares, and reflected moonlight are detected by the DNB.The visible light emissions were detected by the sensor as energetic particles rained down from Earth’s magnetosphere and into the gases of the upper atmosphere.
When the solar particles and pressure into Earth’s magnetosphere collide, the process accelerates particles trapped in the space around Earth (such as in the radiation belts).
Those particles come crashing down into the upper atmosphere of the Earth at altitudes of 100 to 400 kilometers. They then excite oxygen and nitrogen molecules and release photons of light.
The results are incredible and give birth to rays, sheets, and curtains of dancing light in the sky.
NASA shared a picture with this caption on Twitter: “Energetic particles from sun smashed into Earth's magnetic field Dec. 22, stirring up a display of northern lights.”