NewsNational News

Actions

Physicists from University of Iowa prove what causes the Northern Lights

Northern Lights
Posted at 2:00 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 15:12:09-04

The Northern Lights have fascinated people for years, but no one could explain what caused them until now.

Physicists from the University of Iowa announced they've proven that the phenomena known as Alfven waves produce accelerated electrons toward Earth, which causes particles to create the lights.

The physicists said they used "specially designed instruments" to launch the Alfven waves down a 20-meter long chamber to measure the electrons that were accelerated by the electric field.

"These particular electrons undergo resonant acceleration by the wave's electric field, similar to a surfer catching a wave and being continually accelerated as the surfer moves along with the wave," the physicists said.

This idea of electrons "surfing" on the electric field was first introduced in 1946 by Russian physicist Lev Landau. It later became known as Landau damping, CNN reported.