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Surprising Science

Orion and Aurora Over Iceland

Last month in Iceland, a photographer captured this incredible aurora. Iceland’s volcano Öræfajökull can be seen in the foreground. The constellation of Orion is visible to the left of the aurora.


NASA explains this dazzling phenomenon:

Auroras are sparked by energetic particles from the Sun impacting the magnetic environment around the Earth. Resultant energetic particles such as electrons and protons rain down near the Earth’s poles and impact the air. The impacted air molecules obtain excited electrons, and when electrons in oxygen molecules fall back to their ground state, they emit green light. Auroras are known to have many shapes and colors.

Image credit: NASA


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