Glowing "Nordic pearls" are shown appearing across the night sky.  Here's what creates them.

Glowing “Nordic pearls” are shown appearing across the night sky. Here’s what creates them.

Spacecraft that studied the Earth’s magnetosphere collectively observed how solar particles reach the upper atmosphere and create glowing pearls of the Northern Lights in the night sky. (Image credit: ESA / ATG medialab)

A cohort of telescopes captured a special type of aurora borealis that stretched across the night sky like a glowing necklace with jewels, helping astronomers better understand the mechanics behind these beautiful light shows.

Known as northern lights pearls, these round Northern Lights appear in groups scattered across the sky, while more traditional aurora borealis appear flatter and more elongated. A group of 13 spacecraft, including the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Cluster mission, observed the process of triggering aurora borealis on the Earth’s day side, or the side facing the sun, providing new clues as to how these unique aurora borealis are formed.


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