- Scientists, amateur aurora-hunters, and a NASA intern have discovered fascinating new types of aurora in recent years.
- One new type of aurora revealed curls in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and another pointed to a strange magnetic crunch in space.
- New observations of Jupiter’s aurorae have also raised questions about the nature of these lights.
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The colorful lights that dance across polar skies create beautiful displays, but they also reveal mysteries about how planets, space, and the sun interact.
Though humans have been observing the aurora for centuries, scientists are still learning about how it works. Just this year, amateur aurora-hunters discovered a new type of aurora that could come from space particles heating Earth’s upper atmosphere. A NASA intern also revealed a new type of twisting aurora, which led scientists to a mysterious crunch in Earth’s magnetic field.
The lights at Earth’s poles continue to surprise researchers, and other planets’ aurorae offer hints at how their atmospheres and magnetic fields behave, too.
Here’s what researchers have learned about the aurora over the last few years.