/Creating an Aurora: the Sun sending charged particles towards the Earth

Creating an Aurora: the Sun sending charged particles towards the Earth

NASA Goddard’s Conceptual Image Lab/K. Kim

The creation of an aurora and Steve starts with the Sun sending a surge of charged particles towards Earth.

This surge applies pressure on Earth’s magnetic field, which sends the Sun’s charged particles to the far side of Earth, where it is night-time. On this far, night side of Earth, Earth’s magnet field forms a distinctive tail.

When the tail stretches and elongates, it forces oppositely directed magnetic fields close together that join in an explosive process called magnetic reconnection.

Like a stretched rubber band suddenly breaking, these magnetic field lines then snap back towards Earth, carrying charged particles along for the ride.

These charged particles slam into the upper atmosphere, causing it to glow and generating the light we see as the aurora — and now possibly Steve.

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