Are there extraterrestrial radiances on other planets?

If you’ve been lucky enough to see the Northern Lights, this is an experience you’ll probably never forget. These dancing green, red and purple bands of light periodically illuminate the night sky from arctic circle down to mid-northern latitudes all the way south to New York and London. Similar lights appear in the southern hemisphere, emanating from the area around Antarctica.

The ominous brilliance is a phenomenon called Aurora, named after the ancient Greek goddess of dawn. But the origin of the radiance is not divine; rather, they are caused by vigorous solar winds bombarding the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Like photons from these solar winds interact with the atmospheric gases, they glow in brilliant colors and are drawn in fantastic shapes along the magnetic lines of our planet. “Oxygen is red and green, and blue or purple is nitrogen,” James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), told Live Science.

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