Aurora over Idaho

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A tree (bottom right) and its branches are silhouetted against the dramatic night sky, which is purple and yellow thanks to the aurora. Streaks of light shimmer, making the aurora look like the folds in a curtain (middle left).
NASA/Bill Dunford

The aurora paints the sky near Malad City, Idaho, red, purple, and green in this May 11, 2024, image. This aurora was sparked by multiple eruptions of solar material—called coronal mass ejections—colliding with Earth’s magnetic field. This interaction with Earth’s magnetic field can spark a geomagnetic storm and send particles from space rocketing down magnetic field lines toward Earth, where they excite molecules in our planet’s upper atmosphere, releasing light and creating auroras.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Dunford

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