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Research Paper On Aurora Borealis

Decent Essays
The aurora borealis (northern lights) are a colorful light show that occurs in the northern hemisphere. The light show produces many different colors although green and pink are the most common. Other colors that are visible include red, yellow, blue, and violet. The aurora borealis appears in many different forms such as patches, clouds of light, arcs, and shooting rays that light up the sky (“Northern Lights,” n.d.). It is the result of collisions between gas particles in the Earth's atmosphere and charged particles that get released from the sun's atmosphere. People have been observing the aurora borealis for thousands of years, but until recently, it was not well understood. Throughout history philosophers, authors and astronomers such…show more content…
However, during the most active solar flares, the lights can be seen as far south as Scotland, northern England, and New England. The northern lights occur every season, however, they are the most active in the winter months due to the lower levels of light pollution and the clearer air. Additionally, the lights are the brightest and most active after sunspot activity was at its highest (“Aurora,” n.d.). Researchers have also discovered that the auroral activity peaks roughly every 11 years. This means that the next big aurora will occur in 2024 (“Northern Lights,”…show more content…
When there are interactions with nitrogen the red, violet, and blue colors are formed. The type of collision that occurs also helps determine what color will appear in the sky. For example, atomic nitrogen causes blue displays, while molecular nitrogen creates a purple display. Another factor that determines the color is the altitude. The green lights typically occur up to 150 miles high, the red color is formed above 150 miles, blue usually appears closer to the surface of the earth at 60 miles, and purple and violet can occur anywhere above 60 miles (“Northern Lights,” n.d.). Red is made at the highest altitudes. Due to the low concentration of atoms and lower sensitivity of the human eye, this color is only visible when the solar activity is very intense. Green occurs at lower altitudes with frequent collisions between particles. The high concentration of atomic oxygen and the higher eye sensitivity in green make this the most common color to see in the Northern Lights. The excited nitrogen transfers its energy by colliding to an oxygen atom. This radiates it away to the green wavelength. The blue color occurs at even lower altitudes than the green color. This is because atomic oxygen is uncommon at these heights and molecular nitrogen produces visible light emission. Blue and purple emissions produce the highest levels of solar activity. Additionally, the molecular nitrogen transitions
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