A Very Understandable Explanation of How Auroras Are Formed

Hank Green of SciShow explains in very understandable language how auroras are formed in answer to a fan’s question about the subject.

Make no mistake. People say solar wind which makes it sound pleasant and breezy, but it’s plasma – high-energy high-speed super hot particles that are byproducts of the fusion happening inside the Sun. That wind packs quite a punch and actually distorts the shape of our magnetic donut squashing it on the side facing the Sun and in blowing it out into a long tail on the other side…So those super hot, super fast particles get deflected by our magnetic field and instead of smacking us in the teeth, they flow along the field lines toward the north and south poles and they hit our atmosphere around the holes of the donut to wherever those holes are. That’s where you see auroras, because that’s where the charged particles are actually hitting the Earth.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.