A New Aurora has been Discovered in the Night Sky!

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Whether you have actually witnessed Aurora Borealis in the northern regions such as Alaska or just wondered what it would be like, we are all fascinated by these strange beautiful lights in the night sky. Well, scientists have found a new Aurora!


Researchers have discovered a new Aurora in the night sky that has waves of oxygen atoms that create dunes. Aurorae are often called polar lights, northern lights, aurora borealis, etc. 

These lights were identified by a scientist in Finland and it’s believed these lights are caused when streams of charged particles come in contact with oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere.

Nature's Neon Lamps

Aurora is usually produced by electrons racing through space and then colliding with molecules in the atmosphere along with atoms. When released, it’s referred to the auroral light.


According to Minna Palmroth at the University of Helsinki, it’s similar to the mechanism in neon lamps. The electric current excites neon gas and it releases neon light.

The dunes are found in an altitude of approximately 62 miles in the upper third atmospheric layer referred to as the mesosphere. This pattern of waves are similar to dunes on a beach but is bright green in color.

Palmroth and her colleagues believe this type of atmospheric gravity wave ripples in the sky that are formed when buoyancy pushes air up and gravity pulls it back down. In turn, that’s what brings about the formation of the aurora. 

This rare formation in the atmospheric gravity wave, known as a mesospheric bore, makes the dense oxygen in the atmosphere ripple or fluctuate.

Adding to that, when there is electron precipitation in denser areas of the wave, there is more auroral emission and light in comparison to areas where oxygen density is more delicate, making the aurora illuminate the wave.

In 2018, Palmroth published a book that was an important part of identifying this new auroral form. The book offered many photographs of different aurorae taken by amateur astronomers. 

Adding to that, this unidentified auroral appeared once again just a few days after the release of the book and photographers notified Palmroth immediately and an investigation was underway.

Solving the Mystery

In a statement, amateur astronomer Matti Helin said the most memorable moments in the research collaboration was when this phenomenon appeared at a specific time so they could examine it in real-time.


After the initial sighting, hobbyists rushed to find out more about this phenomenon to understand what it was. Helin said it was like putting together a puzzle or conducting a detective investigation. 

Each day, they found new images and incited new ideas. Images were photographed in two locations in southwestern Finland and both displayed similar characteristics. 

Palmroth and her colleagues used astronomical software to work with the altitude and discover the extent of this phenomenon.

A service known as Sky Watch that is operated by the Finnish Amateur Astronomer Association discovered 7 events that displayed the same wave pattern. 

The dunes were observed in an area of the Earth’s atmosphere sitting on the boundary between what they referred to as space that is not really understood.

Palmroth said it was difficult to measure these atmospheric phenomena which were between 80 and 120 kilometers, or 50 to 75 miles, in altitude.

In 2018 scientists announced this celestial phenomenon that many thoughts were simply a form of the aurora. Now known as Steve, it has spectacular glowing ribbons of purple and white light that appear in the sky from time to time. 

Amateur skywatchers had taken pictures of these ribbons for decades before the scientists were able to identify them.

Who knows, maybe someday we will get the golden opportunity to view this beautiful phenomenon forming in the night sky.