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What Are Those Weird Noises Auroras Make?

First Posted: Jun 28, 2016 05:32 AM EDT
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Way up in the North, poetic displays of lights paint the skies beautiful. However, for the last part of the century, many who lucky enough to see these displays also reported eerie noises associated with them. The sounds are said to be comparable to radio static - a faint crackling, light rustling, or even a few hisses here and there can be part of the display.

Many used to think these displays are folklore, but Finnish scientists found that these noises actually do exist - and they seem to have found the answer why.

According to National Geographic, the answer can be traced to the particles trapped in a layer of the atmosphere that form during the cold nights. These particles discharge when bursts of material from the sun slam to earth, thus producing clapping sounds and other noises.

Charged particles are constantly streaming from the sun in the solar wind, and auroras occur when these particles interact with the Earth's magnetic field. They are then funneled toward the poles where they slam into the atmosphere to set off colorful light shows.

Unto Laine, from Aalto University in Finland said in a statement via Space.com, "In the past, researchers thought that the aurora borealis was too far away for people to hear the sounds it made."

 "Our research proves that the source of the sounds that are associated with the aurora borealis we see is likely caused by the same energetic particles from the sun that create the northern lights far away in the sky," Laine also added. "These particles or the geomagnetic disturbance produced by them seem to create sound much closer to the ground."

Auroras have always been captivating, but they rarely appear - and in very few places as well. To catch these elusive displays, it is best to be near the Arctic circle, but powerful solar storms can also appear in more temperate latitudes, too.

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