Grayscale Aurora

This swirling grayscale image shows a spring aurora over the Hudson Bay, as seen by the Suomi NPP satellite. As energetic particles from the sun zip past Earth, they interact with our magnetosphere, which tends to channel particles toward the poles. At these higher latitudes, some of the particles get trapped along Earth’s magnetic field lines and crash into the upper atmosphere where they excite oxygen and nitrogen molecules. It’s this molecular bombardment that creates the distinctive colors of the aurora. (Image credit: J. Stevens; via NASA Earth Observatory)

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