How is the Aurora Borealis Made?
The Aurora Borealis is made when storms on the the sun form solar winds, or large streams of charged particles streaming toward the earth.These streams could have upward of ten million megawatts of electrical power. That is enough power to light up Los Angeles. It generally takes about three days for these streams of particles to reach the earth's upper atmosmere, or ionosphere. When these charged particles hit the earth's atmosphere, they exite the atoms contained in the atmosphere. These excited atoms have a higher energy state that usual and so want to get back to a more normal energy state. The excited atoms give off excess energy in the form of heat, or the case of the aurora borealis, light. The trillions of excited atoms give off enough light so that we can see the light from where we live on the ground, 43-200 miles above us. Below is a picture of the sun giving off a solar flare: the source of it all!
Aurora Home How Auroras Formed Aurora Colors Where They can be Seen Aurora on Jupiter Aurora in Folklore Bibliography