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It is not every day that people discover a new type of northern light effect. It was discovered just recently by Finnish researchers from Finland. They have made this exciting discovery, along with hobby photographers. And now they are writing about it. The discovery involves an unknown phenomenon of northern lights. Its been unknown to the researchers, at least.

The phenomenon does not even fit into any of the established categories of Northern Lights. You can see it in the video that they have put online for everyone to see. It is spectacular!

Dunes in Northern Light is Found

The new part of the northern light that is discovered is called “the dunes”. The phenomenon is described as luminous, rippling wave patterns in the night sky. Like the dunes on a desert or on a huge beach.

A memorable moment when the Dunes of the northern light was found

It was during the work on a book about Northern Lights that this remarkable discovery was made. There was a book that was published late in 2018 and it was created in collaboration with Northern Lights enthusiasts, and input she received from the environment through a Facebook group. Thousands of pictures of Northern Lights taken by hobby photographers were painstakingly mapped and categorized in this book.

During the classification, it was pointed out that a certain type of Northern Lights did not fit into any of the existing Northern Lights categories in this book. So, then just after the book was published, then hobby photographers found this discovery by an “incredible coincidence,” where they saw this unusual shape of the Northern Lights. So they contacted space physicist Minna Palmroth from Finland.

“One of the most memorable moments was when the phenomenon emerged so we were able to investigate it in real time,” one of the hobby astronomers, Matti Helin, said in this press release.

It is amazing to see how hobbyists and real astronomers can work together to solve new parts of the northern lights. It is a magical moment when watching them, but it also hides more answers for sure.


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45 kilometer long waves seen after this puzzle was solved

The place where the Northern Lights come into being, at the intersection of atmosphere and space, is a difficult place to study. So to study the phenomenon it is required an intermediary between atmospheric and space research, Eurekalert article writes. Now the work is documented and published in a scientific article. The article describes the methodology and also what these “quilts” actually are.

According to the researchers, this type of northern light appears at an altitude of about 100 kilometers, in the upper parts of the mesosphere. The length of the waves is estimated to be 45 kilometers. The researchers suspect that there is an example of what is called “mesospheric drilling.” This is evident when waves of oxygen atoms in the atmosphere interact with electron precipitation, producing a glowing, “quilt” -like effects.

As shown in this picture above. Occasionally, a gravitational wave that rises into the atmosphere can be bent to move between layers in a way that the wave pattern occurs. The phenomenon is described as very rare. What it does to the atmosphere or what exactly is happening is still a mystery.

So now you know a little bit more about what the scientists think that the dunes are made when the northern lights are
glowing on the sky. What do you think that they are?


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Northern Lights Dunes FAQ

How does the northern light dunes appear?

The researchers believe there is an underlying wave motion in the atmosphere
There are several collisions between oxygen and electrons doing this
That is why the light seems to come in wavy dune motions when this happens
“The waves organize atmospheric oxygen so that it appears in dense and weak parts,” says Palmroth

A new type of the northern lights pattern

This discovery has never been described before ever. But because of enthusiasts and scientists working together, they have found a solution together which is a really huge achievement. The northern lights have always fascinated people all over the world. Tourists that come to the northern parts of the world love to go on northern lights hunting. So, when you go. Take photos. It might reveal even more secrets.


To be able to call something a new discovery in the scientific world, an observation and an explanation for the observation is required. Probably these quilts have been seen by some before but no explanations have been given for this form of science before. These dunes are rare but if you manage to catch them on camera. Share them with scientists.

Source and Photo: University Of Helsinki, EurekAlert


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