What Are Alien Auroras?

Aug 3, 2015 at 5:05 pm |
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Good news, everyone! The first alien auroras were just found! But wait. What does that mean? Auroras are “caused by currents in the magnetosphere of a planet — the shell of electrically charged particles captured by a planet’s magnetic field — that force electrons to rain down on the atmosphere, colliding with the molecules within and making them give off light,” explains Space.com. Here on Earth our auroras are known as the Northern and Southern Lights.

Auroras can be found on other planets in our solar system, but this is the first time they have been seen outside SOL (our solar system). Scientists looked at a possible brown dwarf known as LSR J1835+3259, which is roughly the size of Jupiter, but with a mass dozens of times larger than Jupiter and 18 light years away from us. Brown dwarfs are much larger than planets, but not large enough to be stars. “The colors of auroras depend on whatever the atmosphere they take place in is made of. In Earth’s case, it’s mostly green and blue and red because of oxygen and nitrogen. When it comes to Jupiter, Saturn and brown dwarfs — which have hydrogen-rich atmospheres — you’d see red, and there would be ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths as well,” said Gregg Hallinan, astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and leader of the study.

Previously, the brightest known auroras came from Jupiter — which has the most powerful magnetic field in our solar system. The auroras on LSR J1835+3259 are 10,000 times to 100,000 times brighter than Jupiter’s. How does that compare to us on Earth? Possibly a million times brighter than our beautiful Northern Lights!

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We just found the first ones!