41,000 years ago, Auroras could be seen from places nearer to equator

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 20, 2021, 11:54 PM(IST)

The representative image is a photo clicked by astronaut Thomas Pesquet from International Space Station of an Aurora Photograph:( Instagram )

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Today if anyone wants to witness the Auroras, the person has to travel to countries closer to north or south pole. But there was a time in distant past when Auroras moved nearer to the equator

Auroras are mesmerising. Those who have seen it would tell you how the dance of colours across the sky makes us forget that it's just a phenomenon that can be scientifically explained. 

Today if anyone wants to witness the Auroras, the person has to travel to countries closer to north or south pole. But there was a time in distant past when Auroras moved nearer to the equator. The resplendent dance of heavenly colours was visible from places on Earth that never witness it anymore.

Auroras are formed when solar wind interacts with Earth's magnetic field. Solar wind is a stream of solar particles. Earth's magnetism is strongest at the poles. This is why solar particles are directed towards poles and Auroras are visible in countries in far north or far south.

41,000 years ago Earth's magnetic field experienced a disturbance. The magnetic poles weakened. Axis of Earth's magnetic field tilted and solar particles were not attracted towards the polls anymore. They interacted with Earth's magnetic field at near-equatorial latitudes.

This meant that the play of colour that we see near poles today was very much visible at places nearer to equator. It took 1300 years for the magnetic field to regain its strength and tilt back.

Earth magnetic field also protects its atmosphere and life. So did weakening of magnetic field cause any harm to life 41,000 years ago? The researchers say yes, but maintain that more study was required to establish a a clear cause-and-effect relationship.

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