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Earth Aurora (Auroral X-ray emission observed from Earth's north polar region.) | by Smithsonian Institution
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Earth Aurora (Auroral X-ray emission observed from Earth's north polar region.)

Description: The bright arcs in this Chandra image show low-energy X-rays (0.1 - 10 kilo electron volts) generated during auroral activity. The image - seen here superimposed on a simulated image of Earth - is from an approximately 20-minute scan during which Chandra was pointed at a fixed point in the sky while the Earth's motion carried the auroral region through the field of view. Auroras are produced by solar storms that disturb Earth's magnetic field and accelerate electrons which speed along the magnetic field into the polar regions. There the electrons collide with atoms high in Earth's atmosphere and emit X-rays.


Creator/Photographer: Chandra X-ray Observatory


NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched and deployed by Space Shuttle Columbia on July 23, 1999, is the most sophisticated X-ray observatory built to date. The mirrors on Chandra are the largest, most precisely shaped and aligned, and smoothest mirrors ever constructed. Chandra is helping scientists better understand the hot, turbulent regions of space and answer fundamental questions about origin, evolution, and destiny of the Universe. The images Chandra makes are twenty-five times sharper than the best previous X-ray telescope. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Medium: Chandra telescope x-ray


Date: 2005


Repository: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory


Gift line: NASA/MSFC/CXC/A.Bhardwaj & R.Elsner, et al.; Earth model: NASA/GSFC/L.Perkins & G.Shirah


Accession number: earth

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Taken on October 8, 2008