CHAPTER 10 – THE AURORA –
In the polar regions explorers, scientists and the inhabitants are often treated to phenomenal displays of light darting across the sky. This is the Aurora Borealis. The aurora is one of natures most beautiful and mysterious phenomena. Most people have been taught at school that the aurora is the result of charged particles expelled from the Sun. These particles, racing through space strike the Earth in the polar regions. Most of these particles are expelled by solar flares and various storms on the surface of the Sun. These charged particles, upon striking the Earth’s atmosphere cause the aurora. Some people are aware that the Earth’s aurora, and that of other planets (like Jupiter for example) appears as a ring-like structure when photographed from space.
The aurora used to mystify the early polar explorers. Sir Edmund Halley was the first to speculate that it might be caused by ‘luminous material’ escaping form his Hollow Earth. This was seized upon by Hollow Earthers ever since and has become an integral part of the idea. Marshall Gardner tried to demonstrate that the aurora was caused by rays of light shining out of the Hollow Earth. He thought the aurora might be due to rays from a central Sun shining out of the Earth. However, we now know so much more about its exact behaviour. Gardner’s idea, as well as Halley’s ideas are definitely invalid. I was nevertheless fascinated by the possibility of a nuclear reaction within the Earth and so I spent several months familiarizing myself with the technical detail of the aurora. I wish to call the Reader’s attention to something much more subtle – to a phenomenon known as the ‘pulsating aurora’.
Charged Particles From Where?
Scientists state that the charged particles which drive the aurora all come from the Sun. But is this really so? As a general statement, I have no problem with the concept that most of the charged particles do indeed originate from the Sun. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that 90% of the charged particles which drive the aurora probably emanate from the Sun. But as will be seen later, there are some, notably those which cause the pulsating aurora, which seem to hint strongly at a terrestrial origin. Prof. Davis writes: “…these (charged) particles drift outward in the solar wind so slowly (1000 times slower than the sunlight) that the journey takes several days. Once the charged particles enter the magnetosphere, they undergo acceleration to speeds near one-fifth that of the speed of light. They then are capable of penetrating into the atmosphere to a depth of approximately 100 Km above the Earth’s surface.” This fact is of crucial importance. The charged particles which arrive here from the Sun have far too little energy to actually create the aurora. So how are they accelerated? Scientists don’t know either.
The Aurora’s Pulse –
The Sun might well feed some charged particles to the Earth, but the Earth somehow controls the aurora. Many mysteries abound which we shall visit. The pulsating aurora is normally seen after the magnificent auroral break-up. It pulsates quietly in the night sky for hours on end. The pulsating auroral forms undergo periodic or semi-periodic variations in brightness. The periods range from 0.1 sec to more than 20 sec. Prof. Davis writes: “Pulsating aurora is spectacular, but it lacks the brightness, color and fast motions typical of the discrete aurora. In the over-all scheme of things, pulsating aurora is important because it is widespread and therefore represents the end effect of a substantial portion of the energy carried into the global auroral atmosphere by incoming fast particles. Some observations suggest that the ‘on’ phase of a pulse is associated with an increase in energy of the responsible incoming particles because the altitude of the lower border during the ‘on’ phase is lower than the altitude of nearby diffuse non-pulsating background aurora that may accompany the pulsating forms.” Inherent in much of the aurora is this distinctive pulsation, this variation in its strength. Since these discrete auroras are caused by incoming streams of electrons, the implication is that something is in control of the incoming streams of electrons. What could be pumping these electrons into the polar skies – sometimes with a burst-like structure? The Reader should note that in all the examples given this flickering pulsating and flaming is taking place in the midnight sector of the Earth where the Sun has no effect at all.