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Sound Waves From the Northern Lights. Jada Maxwell. Photo courtesy of Bjorn Jorgensen, 18 January 2005, near Tromsø, Norway http://www.spaceweather.com/aurora/images2005/17jan05/Jorgensen1.jpg.

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sound waves from the northern lights
Sound Waves From the Northern Lights

Jada Maxwell

Photo courtesy of Bjorn Jorgensen, 18 January 2005, near Tromsø, Norway

http://www.spaceweather.com/aurora/images2005/17jan05/Jorgensen1.jpg

slide2
“Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately.”- Buckminster Fuller
can magnetic waves in the aurorae transform into sound waves
Can magnetic waves in the aurorae transform into sound waves?
  • What creates the aurora?
  • Sound waves from the aurora
  • Wave transformation on the Sun
  • Beginning to answer my question
chain of events

The aurora is created by a chain of events, beginning with energy from the sun.

Chain of Events

Image courtesy of Tom Michalikhttp://faculty.rmwc.edu/tmichalik/solarwind.htm

the magnetosphere
The Magnetosphere

Image courtesy of Minnesota Technologhttp://technolog.it.umn.edu/technolog/novdec97/cover.htm

coronal mass ejection cme
Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)

Illustration by Steele Hill, courtesy of NASAhttp://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/localinfo/steele.html

particles spiral down field lines
Particles Spiral Down Field Lines

Image: Fundamentals of Physics, 2005

particles 2
Particles 2

Particles Spiral Down Field Lines

  • Collide with atomic and molecular oxygen and nitrogen
  • Emit energy as light
this creates the aurorae
This Creates the Aurorae
  • Northern Lights = Aurora Borealis
  • Southern Lights = Aurora Australis

Image courtesy of Shawn Malonehttp://www.lakesuperiorphoto.com

nearly mirror images
Nearly Mirror Images

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Australis

Images courtesy of NOAAhttp://sec.noaa.gov/pmap/

can we hear the aurorae
Can we hear the aurorae?
  • Anecdotal evidence of auroral sounds
  • hissing, popping, crackling, swooshing
  • corresponds with motions of light
6 minutes
6 minutes
  • Sound would take at least 6 minutes to travel from the aurora to the ground
  • No recordings of audible aurorae
explanations of audible sounds
Explanations of Audible Sounds
  • Psychological
  • Freezing Breath
  • “Brush discharge”
evidence of infrasound from aurorae
Evidence of Infrasoundfrom Aurorae
  • Humans can hear between 20 and 20,000 Hertz (Hz)
  • Infrasound is below 20 Hz
  • Currently being investigated
  • Gas expansion
types of magnetic waves
Types of Magnetic Waves
  • Alfvén waves (s-mode)
  • Magnetosonic waves (p-mode)

Images courtesy of Georgia State Universityhttp://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/sound/tralon.html

BBC animations

my question
My Question

Can magnetic waves in the aurorae transform into sound waves?

finding beta
Finding Beta

Gas (atmospheric) Pressure

Beta = β =

Magnetic Field Pressure

β = 1 ?

resonance
Resonance
  • All material has a frequency that it vibrates at
  • Matching the frequency allows the material to absorb energy
  • Singing wine glass
resonance in the aurora
Resonance in the Aurora

When β = 1,

  • Energy from magnetic waves can be transferred to the atmosphere
  • Found the right frequency
when beta 1
When Beta = 1

β= 1 ?

  • At 120 km
  • Near bottom of aurorae
more questions to investigate
More Questions to Investigate
  • How does β vary?
  • Compare gas expansion theory to wave transformation
  • How much might Alfvén and magnetosonic waves each contribute to this effect?
  • Which is more likely to transform?
thanks to
Thanks to:
  • Dr. E.J. Zita for her guidance and helpful discussions
  • Beth Stinson for instruction in PowerPoint
image sources
Image Sources:
  • NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)http://sec.noaa.gov/pmap/
  • NASAhttp://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/localinfo/steele.html
  • SpaceWeather.com http://www.spaceweather.com/aurora/images2005.htm
  • Shawn Malonehttp://www.lakesuperiorphoto.com
  • Tom Michalikhttp://faculty.rmwc.edu/tmichalik/solarwind.htm
  • Minnesota Technologhttp://technolog.it.umn.edu/technolog/novdec97/cover.htm
  • Fundamentals of Physics, Halliday/Resnick/Walker, John Wiley & Sons, 2005, p 746
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