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Here's why Auroras on Earth are different in the north and south

  Why Aururas Are Different on Earth in the North and South

An Aurora australis, the southern version of the phenomenon as seen from the International Space Station.

Credit: NASA

Auroras paint The sky around the poles, when the sun is particularly active, hurls charged particles into the Earth's atmosphere. The scientists once believed that the great events were mirror images, but to their surprise, the north (Aurora Borealis) and south (Aurora Australis) displays are not exactly the same.

Since scientists were able to recognize these two sky indicators, they stand up, trying to figure out why. Now, a team of researchers believe it has found the reason ̵

1; asymmetry in the earth's magnetic tail. What is stranger is that the asymmetry is caused by the exact opposite of what the scientists expected.

"The reason for this is exciting, because we used to think that the asymmetry in the system would enter the magnetosphere through a mechanism called" tail connection. "Anders Ohma, PhD student at the University of Bergen in Norway and lead author of the new study, said in a statement published by the magazine, "What this paper shows is that it may be the opposite." [Northern Lights Photos: The Amazing Auroras on Earth]

It all depends on the Earth's magnetic tail, which is created by interactions between our planet and the Sun. These interactions begin with the Earth's magnetic field, which scientists believe originates from the guts that swirl through the Earth's core and generate an electrical charge, and magnetic fields – from refrigerators to planets – create invisible magnetic field lines between the North and South poles that can determine the behavior of the surrounding material.

But the Earth's magnetic field is not the only one – the sun also has this one, which affects the constant flow of highly charged plasma particles that emanate in all directions. The magnetic field embedded in this stream, called the solar wind, intervenes in what the earth produces by crushing it on the side of the earth facing the sun and stretching it into a tail shape on the night side facing away from the sun. 19659005] Magnetic field lines are guided through the twisted field and are not fixed. They break and reform dramatic events called reconnections. This tail phenomenon is what, according to the scientists, caused mismatching northern and southern Auroras. (It's the tail that matters to the aurora, since this is the side of the magnetic field that is in the dark, and auroras are only visible at night.)

Instead, the team behind the current research recognized that Magnetic field of the solar wind does not work. It is always focused exactly on the earth. If it is wrong, this will lead to an asymmetry between the north and south poles in the magnetic field of the earth – and this in turn leads to a mismatch between north and south Auroras.

So the researchers collected simultaneous far-infrared observations of the north and south light and tracked how closely the two auroras fit together. Then they added data about reconnections in Earth's magnetic tail. But when they compared the two units of measure, they saw exactly the opposite of what they had expected – instead of reinforcing those dramatic connections that reinforced the asymmetry of Auroras, they brought the Auroras back into line.

Understanding the Auroras It is not important, as Auroras are just symptoms of how the Sun affects the earth through a series of phenomena called space weather. But space weather can disrupt navigation and communications satellites and even disable power grids. And scientists are still trying to figure out how space weather works and how it can be better predicted. Auroras are just the most beautiful phenomenon that starts to crack.

The research is described in an article published last month in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.

E-mail Meghan Bartels at [email protected] or follow @meghanbartels . Follow us @SpaceTotcom and Facebook. Original article on Space.com

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