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The forming Aurora - Windows to the Universe

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This figure shows the earth, the aurora, and streams of particles coming from the magnetosphere.
Click on image for full size

The forming Aurora

This picture shows the flowing of particles into and out of the auroral zone, as Field-Aligned currents (FAC's) take at short-cut through the atmosphere.

Some of the particles entering the auroral zone will collide with particles from the atmosphere and create the aurora. After the collision, these particles leave the magnetosphere and become part of the atmosphere.

The impacts of these particles can have a significant effect on the atmosphere as a whole, causing it to wobble for hours.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF