Rosetta’s ‘rubber ducky’ comet has ultraviolet auroras

Planets aren’t the only things in the solar system with auroras. Comets can have them too, data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission has revealed.

While looking at data from Rosetta, researchers found evidence of ultraviolet auroras at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which the probe studied up close for nearly two years before the mission ended in 2016. 

“Rosetta is the first mission to observe an ultraviolet aurora at a comet,” Matt Taylor, a Rosetta project scientist at ESA, said in a statement. “Auroras are inherently exciting — and this excitement is even greater when we see one somewhere new, or with new characteristics.”

Related: Auroras over Earth: amazing Northern Lights photos from space

Similar to Earth’s auroras (also called the Northern and Southern Lights), Comet 67P’s auroras appear when charged particles from the sun, known as the solar wind, interact with atoms and molecules of gas around the comet,

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