What's the electric mystery behind green northern lights?

Dec 18, 2020

Solar debris can be more beautiful and disruptive than we know.

Credit: Federico Bottos

Magnificent, hypnotic and powerful  - Galileo Galilei named these lights aurora borealis - which translates to 'dawn of the north' from its greek mythology roots. These heavenly polar activities have been of great scientific interest to the NASA.  

Northern lights are mostly unpredictable. Not even weather and activity estimations of the surface of the sun are sufficient to predict their appearance over the long term - although these are two main factors involved in their eagerly awaited displays of light.

Nonetheless, the most interesting scientific discoveries stem from the fact that, essentially, the polar lights are unleashed and unharnessed DC power stored in this beautiful spectacle - creating strange overloads, disruptions and patterns.

According to the New York Times Magazine

The wave pattern of A.C. electricity is modified by the aurora's D.C. interference, creating distortions of the electrical waves similar to harmonics on sound waves in music. These distorted waves are known to produce heating in transformers, and there is considerable speculation that this may cause early failure of transformers [responsible for converting DC electricity, like solar photovoltaics' to the AC used in all of our homes].

Our favourite colour is green, so we were also keen on understanding the precise chemistry preference of the colour of northern lights.

Credit: Kevin Lofthous

Since auroras appear when sunspots and solar storms are strongest, their colour depends on the solar magnetic waves' chemical reaction with oxygen and nitrogen among other elements.

According to Space

Typically, when the particles collide with oxygen, yellow and green are produced. The green lights typically  appear in areas up to 150 miles (241 km) high. These lights may manifest as a static band of light or when the solar flares are particularly strong, as a dancing curtain of ever-changing color.

Like a spring recoiling in the outer spheres as the solar debris passes through our Earth's protective magnetic field, NASA has found out a beautiful fact.

While researching auroras to further our understanding of electromagnetic waves - dancing auroras happen to move to the rhythm of Earth's magnetic field.

Credit: Federico Bottos

Auroras, in summary, are solar energy debris waves turned to particles in a beautiful display of how our planet's most fascinating and aesthetic discoveries are always aesthetically inter-connected - just like we aspire to be here, at Hypervolt.

We hope you enjoy reading this exploration of the marvellous mixture of science and beauty in the northern lights just as much as we enjoy sharing it with you.

Interested in our EV charging technology but unsure how to partake? We can give you and your referred friend £25 each if they buy our smart electric car charger, Hypervolt Home 2.0. To join our referral scheme please e-mail sales@hypervolt.co.uk  

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