Produced by forskning.no, in collaboration with the Department of Physics at the University of Oslo, this is a brilliantly simple animated explainer about How the Aurora Borealis is created. Highlights from the video narration:
“…electrical currents of charged gas create magnetic fields inside the Sun. In some places, strong magnetic fields push their way up through the surface… the electrically charged gas is called plasma.
“The plasma drags the magnetic field further outwards. The magnetic field stretches and twists like a rubber band, then the rubber band breaks. Several billion tons of plasma is hurled out from the Sun. This is called a solar storm.”
“The solar storm can reach speeds over eight million kilometers an hour. After six hours, it blows past the planet Mercury. After 12 hours, the planet Venus. After 18 hours, the solar storm reaches Earth.”
“When the solar storm reaches our planet, something strange happens: An invisible shield, the Earth’s magnetic field, deflects the storm. The magnetic fields couple together and create a funnel for the gas streams down on the daylight side of the pole. This is the daylight aurora.
The magnetic fields stretch further back and couple together. The magnetic rubber band breaks and gas from the solar storm streams along the magnetic lines towards the poles on the night side. This is the nighttime Aurora.”