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Chandra Satellite Reveals X-Rays Created by Northern Lights

Chandra Satellite Reveals X-Rays Created by Northern Lights
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nasa auroraAn international team of scientists led by Dr. Ron Elsner of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center report that NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory satellite imaged low-energy (0.1 - 10 kilo electron volts) X-rays created by auroral activity, or 'northern lights,' above Earth's northern polar region over a four-month period in 2004, shown as the rainbow false-color images above a simulated Earth image. The colors represent X-ray brightness, with maximum brightness shown in red. Previous satellites had only revealed high-energy X-rays. According to NASA, "Auroras are produced by solar storms that eject clouds of energetic charged particles. These particles are deflected when they encounter the Earth's magnetic field, but in the process large electric voltages are created. Electrons trapped in the Earth's magnetic field are accelerated by these voltages and spiral along the magnetic field into the polar regions. There they collide with atoms high in the atmosphere and emit X-rays." Chandra was launched and deployed by the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1999 to observe X-rays from high-energy regions of the universe, such as remnants of exploded stars.
Submitted by elementlist on Dec 30, 2005
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