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The Northern Lights are more formally known as auroras, and are caused by interactions between the solar wind and the Earth's magnetic field.

from Live Science

'Magnetic' Discovery May Reveal Why Earth Supports Life and Mars Doesn't

Earth's magnetic field, which protects the planet from harmful blasts of solar radiation, is much older than scientists had previously thought. This invisible, protective shield likely existed shortly after the planet formed; a finding that could shed light on why Earth is habitable and Mars is not. Earth's magnetic field helped make life on the planet possible. Without our magnetic field, solar winds would strip away the planet's atmosphere and oceans.


In case you didn’t know, the universe is a terribly hostile place for most lifeforms. At least, it is if you don’t have proper protection. Take our own star, for example. The Sun gives life to everything on Earth, but it is also a violent inferno that shoots off high energy particles that could seriously disrupt Earth’s natural systems. Fortunately, for us, our planet has protection. Ultimately, the Earth is encased in a magnetic field, which is generated by the rotating, liquid iron core at…


Magnetic Fields of Venus, Earth and Mars. I love this piece because it reminds me of just how special,fragile and protected Mother Earth is when it comes to having and feeling the full on powerful force of the SUN.


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from the Guardian

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012 nominations – in pictures

Northern lights from Judy W … More


Ring of Fire. A picture taken by NASA of the Northern Lights from space.


This planetary nebula, Mz3, is being cast off by a star similar to our Sun. The 1000-kilometer per second speed of the expelled gas, the light-year long length of the structure, and the magnetism of the star visible at the nebula's center, all imply Mz3 is hiding a second, dimmer star that orbits close in to the bright star. A competing hypothesis holds that the central star's own spin and magnetic field are channeling the gas. (ESA, NASA's Hubble, JPL-CalTech)

from Mail Online

The Sun as you've never seen it: Nasa reveals stunning footage from new satellite

Ring of fire: Known as a 'prominence eruption', this is a loop of gas heated to an extremely high temperature. Twisted magnetic fields on the Sun's surface cause the gas to be shaped like this. This image was captured by the satellite on March 30


Earth's Magnetic Field, Activities for Kids