Do extraterrestrial auroras occur on other planets?

If you were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, this is an experience you will likely never forget. These dancing green, red, and purple bands of light periodically illuminate the night sky from the Arctic Circle down to the northern mid-latitudes as far as New York and London. Similar lights also appear in the southern hemisphere, radiating from the area around Antarctica.

The eerie glow is a phenomenon called an aurora borealis, named after the ancient Greek goddess of dawn. But the origin of an aurora is not divine; rather, they are caused by energetic solar winds bombarding Earth’s upper atmosphere. As photons (opens in new tab) These solar winds interact with atmospheric gases, glowing with brilliant colors and being drawn into fantastic shapes along our planet’s magnetic lines. “Oxygen is red and green, and the blue or purple is nitrogen,” James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), told Live Science.

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