High School Physics

Aurora Borealis Aurorae | Aurora Australis

An effect caused by the Earth’s magnetic field is the spectacular Northern and Southern Lights, which are also called the Aurora Borealis (Figure 1) and the Aurora Australis respectively (Figure 2).

figure 1: Aurora Borealis

When charged particles from the solar wind reach the Earth’s magnetosphere, they spiral along the magnetic field lines towards the North and South poles. If they collide with particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, they can cause red or green lights that stretch across a large part of the sky. This is called an aurora.

figure 2: Aurora Australis

As this only happens close to the North and South poles people living in the high Northern latitudes in Canada, Sweden, and Finland, for example, often see the Northern lights.

See also  Magnetic field along the axis of a circular coil carrying current
Scroll to top