Computer simulations explain how electrons with wide-ranging energies rain into Earth’s upper and middle atmosphere during a phenomenon known as the pulsating aurora. The findings, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggest that the higher-energy electrons resulting from this process could cause destruction of the part of the ozone in the mesosphere, about 60 kilometres above Earth’s surface. The study was a collaboration between scientists in Japan, including at Nagoya University, and colleagues in the US, including from NASA.
The northern and southern lights that people are typically aware of, called the aurora borealis and australis, look like coloured curtains of reds, greens, and purples spreading across the night skies. But there is another kind of aurora that is less frequently seen. The pulsating aurora looks more like indistinct wisps of cloud strumming across the sky.
Scientists have only recently developed the technologies enabling them to understand how