Skip to comments.Northern Lights Oddity: Strange Sounds of Auroras Explained
Posted on 07/10/2012 2:28:31 PM PDT by BenLurkin
The northern lights of Earth are more than just dazzling light shows they also generate their own strange applause too, a new study reveals.
The same energetic particles that create the dancing, dazzling northern lights high up in Earth's atmosphere also produce strange "clapping" noises just 230 feet (70 meters) from the ground, researchers said.
The results vindicate folktales and reports by wilderness travelers, which have long described sounds associated with the northern lights (which are also known as the aurora borealis).
"In the past, researchers thought that the aurora borealis was too far away for people to hear the sounds it made," Unto Laine, from Aalto University in Finland, said in a statement released today (July 9).
"This is true," Laine added. "However, our research proves that the source of the sounds that are associated with the aurora borealis we see is likely caused by the same energetic particles from the sun that create the northern lights far away in the sky. These particles or the geomagnetic disturbance produced by them seem to create sound much closer to the ground."
Laine and his colleagues determined the location of the clapping noise by comparing sounds captured by three microphones set up at a site with high auroral activity. Simultaneous measurements made by the Finnish Meteorological Institute showed a typical pattern of northern lights episodes at the time, researchers said.
Aurora sounds don't occur during every northern lights outburst, and they're usually brief and faint, requiring careful listening and a minimum of background noise to be heard.
Scientists still aren't sure exactly how the auroral sounds are created. They can be quite variable, ranging from claps and crackles to muffled bangs and sputtering sounds. Because of this sonic diversity, several different mechanisms might be at work, researchers said.
(Excerpt) Read more at livescience.com ...
Good find! Thanks!
Do I really need to say that it isn’t my fault?
Interesting article ping.
I lived in Canada’s far north for decades & heard the northern lights many times. It never occured to me that there was any doubt they made sounds.
...and just think...there are billlyuns and billlyuns and billlyuns of these star poots in just our galaxy alone.
(thank goodness that) “In space, no one can smell you stink.”
In 1989 during the solar storm, we had aurora visible in Huguenot NY.
Down side, I never got to actually see them because I needed the lenses in my glasses changed.
Don’t recall actually hearing anything either.
Except stony silence due to the power having been blasted from the face of the Earth.
I remember when I was first licensed as a ham operator I pointed my 6 element 10m beam due north and made a contact with someone in Reno NV.
I was in northern California at the time.
Amazingly strong reflection off the auroral curtain, the sound was was very ‘watery’. We were both amazed by the contact. Never did see the Aurora at my latitude but the whooshing quality of the audio was quite the experience. And as I remember it, the grid held up, no one died.
Thanks BenLurkin. An ‘extra, extra’ ping to the APoD list.
Some scientists carry an arrogance that prevents them from accepting observations from the non-anointed:)
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