Charged particles from the sun’s solar wind blast through Earth’s atmosphere and cause the auroras. These particles, at altitudes above 50 miles or 80 km, interact with gases in our atmosphere causing the varied colors in an aurora. Due to the Earth’s magnetic field, these particles travel to the Earth’s pole causing the aurora borealis, or northern lights , and its southern counterpart the aurora australis, or southern lights.
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Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for Space.com. She began writing and producing content for Space.com in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.