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X-ray Aurora above Earth....

30 Jan 2016, 11:35 UTC
X-ray Aurora above Earth....
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Above: The surprising view of an violently X-ray emitting aurora, that the INTEGRAL space craft got. Courtesy of ESAESA’s INTEGRAL space telescope usually looks into deep space at x ray sources, like black holes and neutron stars. But in November it got a surprise: As it turned to map a section of deep spacer in X-rays it saw a powerful X-ray emission coming from somewhere else: Earth's atmosphere.The blast of X-rays was coming from the polar regions, where a storm of high energy particles from the Sun was crashing into our upper atmosphere, causing Aurora - these huge curtains of light in the polar sky:As the high speed particles of a solar storm are funnelled by Earths magnetism into the atmosphere over the poles, different molecules and atoms  in the atmosphere glow like a flourescent tube to create these curtains,  typically in green and red. But auroras also emit X-rays, generated as the incoming particles decelerate - and on this occasion they shone so brightly in X-rays they blotted out the cosmic sources Integral was set to map.That said the observations weren't a waste: The Earth's magnetic field and how interacts with the solar wind and storms is a source of mysteries to ...

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