Scientists discover in a video of almost two decades a new type of aurora

    A team of physicists has discovered a new characteristic of these atmospheric light shows after examining a video recorded almost two decades ago, according to the authors of a new study led by the University of Iowa, USA.

    This is a clip recorded on March 15, 2002 in the Canadian city of Churchill that shows how a section of a diffuse aurora rapidly lights up, then disappears, and then suddenly reappears after several seconds. The researchers say this behavior, which they call “diffuse auroral drafts,” has never been studied before.

    The scientist who captured the video 20 years ago, David Knudsen, recalls that at the time the sky appeared to be completely dark, but a special camera managed to capture the low-level light.

    “When an area was brightened and faded, the diffuse aurora in the background was blurred. It disappeared. There was a hole in the diffuse aurora. And then that hole would fill up again after half a minute or so. I had never seen anything like this, “he said.

    Auroras occur when charged particles from the Sun interact with the magnetic field that protects our planet. As some of these particles fall towards Earth, the energy released during their collision with gases in the Earth's atmosphere generates light.

    In 2010, astrophysicist Riley Troyer became interested in the material, so he created a computer program to study it, discovering that it took about 20 seconds for the aurora to regain its brightness.

    “The most valuable thing we found is to show the time it takes for the aurora to go from an erasure event to fill or re-color and how long it takes to return from that erase to a diffuse aurora,” Troyer concluded, explaining that this can help in the development of magnetic field modeling.

    Scientists say there is still a lot of research to be done in this field and they hope to detect more examples of this phenomenon. “The most important thing about these previously unknown drafts is knowing that they exist,” said Allison Jaynes, a co-author of the study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.

    Source: Curiosidades – Diario La Página by
    The article has been translated based on the content of Curiosidades – Diario La Página by
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