Originally posted by PocketKings
I guess nobody is smart enough
Magnetic fields are like lines of spaghetti, they 'start' at one pole, say north, and line up till it hits a south pole. There is a north and south pole of the earth so all the lines go out from deep within the earth because there is an liquid iron core electric dynamo rotating around the earth in the center and that is like a power generator, so a magnetic field forms from way down in the earth.
So one pole of the field goes up and out from the north pole area and the other up and out from the south pole, antarctic region. The actual place that we call magnetic north and south wanders around some which means magnetic compasses are not accurate for long periods of time, the ones that try to be exact have to be updated every few years so you can tell your direction accurately.
But the field lines go way out into space and at some high altitude, maybe 600 miles up, over the equator, the lines are now going parallel to the ground and follow back down to the south pole. So when a solar flare sends its charged particles in the direction of earth, the magnetic field is our shield against what would be a lot of radiation hitting the ground but instead, follows the lines of magnetic force in a corkscrew fashion around the lines and ends up corkscrewing itself into the north and south pole, positive charges going one way and negative charges going the other.
So all that energy gets concentrated by the field lines and when they get to the poles, the particles slam into the upper atmosphere, say 40 miles up or so and they react with the neutral atoms of the upper atmospher and turns into a giant neon light bulb, of course with different ions, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and the like, each one with its own distictive color, and they are very dynamic in the sense that it is happening in real time and will dissapate after a few hours as the charges mingle with and react to the atmosphere. They are very beautiful for sure, I saw plenty of them when I was in HS in Anchorage, Alaska.