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Physicists Explain Mysterious “Discrete Aurora” on Mars


Manwon Lender
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Scientists have learned how discrete aurora is formed on Mars. In a new study, the physicists report that the upstream solar wind properties interacting with the crustal magnetic fields found in Mars’ southern hemisphere strongly affect the formation and properties of the Martian discrete aurora. The research was led by Zachary Girazian, an associate research scientist in the University of Iowa Department of Physics and Astronomy.

In a new study, the physicists studied discrete aurora, a light-in-the-sky phenomenon that occurs predominantly during the night in the red planet’s southern hemisphere. While scientists have known about discrete aurora on Mars–which also occur on Earth—they were mystified as to how they formed. That’s because Mars does not have a global magnetic field like Earth, which is a main trigger for aurora, also called the northern and southern lights on our planet.

Instead, the physicists report, discrete aurora on Mars are governed by the interaction between the solar wind—the constant jet of charged particles from the sun—and magnetic fields generated by the crust at southern latitudes on Mars. It’s the nature of this localized interaction between the solar wind and the crustal magnetic fields that leads to discrete aurora, the scientists discovered.

https://scitechdaily.com/news/space/

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