The deviousness of Aurora's magical lights: pulsing waves full of killer electrons

Scientists discover killer electrons in the polar lights

The scientists observe rare and mysterious pulsing lights of Aurora. It is a main-belt asteroid that belongs to the dark spectral class. Fires of pulsating auroras, such as those emitted by Aurora, are extremely rare in outer space. And the scientists concluded that they may be associated with the destruction of some of the ozone. To explain the phenomenon, the astronomers created computer simulations.

It explains how electrons with a wide range of energies can enter the upper and middle layers of our planet's atmosphere. It is known that these electrons create a unique sight, the aurora. But if electrons have a higher energy, then they are capable of causing destruction of ozone in the atmosphere.


It can occur in the mesosphere, it is located at an altitude of about 60 kilometers from the Earth's surface. The study was conducted by the specialists from Nogai University and NASA. Traditionally, the aurora can be seen in the form of red, green and purple flashes. But there is another kind of aurora.

It is pulsating and looks like wedges of clouds flashing in the sky. And it is the very dangerous glow that destroys ozone. Previously, only in theory there was an assumption that such an effect of cosmic electrons could exist near the surface of the Earth. Now it was confirmed by an evidence.

Low and high energy electrons interact between chorus waves and electrons that are present in the Earth's magnetosphere. These are plasma waves, they are generated near the magnetic equator, moving from north to south.


The electrons scatter into the upper atmosphere, releasing light energy that manifests itself as a pulsating radiance. Such interactions endow electrons with deadly power. They can damage satellites and disable navigation systems. Their main danger lies in the destruction of ozone.

Reference: “Relativistic Electron Microbursts as High‐Energy Tail of Pulsating Aurora Electrons” by Y. Miyoshi, S. Saito, S. Kurita, K. Asamura, K. Hosokawa, T. Sakanoi, T. Mitani, Y. Ogawa, S. Oyama, F. Tsuchiya, S. L. Jones, A. N. Jaynes and J. B. Blake, 13 October 2020, Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1029/2020GL090360