A NASA satellite has captured a dazzling infrared image of northern lights that appeared as swirls of glowing clouds over northern Canada on the night of December 22.
In a statement, NASA's Earth Observatory said that the night after the winter solstice, NASA's Suomi NPP spacecraft recorded the northern lights, or aurora borealis, across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut and northwest territories in Canada.
"The collision of solar particles and pressure on our planet's magnetosphere accelerates particles trapped in the space around Earth. Those particles are sent crashing down into Earth's upper atmosphere — at altitudes of 100 to 400 km — where they excite oxygen and nitrogen molecules and release photons of light. The results are rays, sheets and curtains of dancing light in the sky," NASA said in a statement explaining the northern lights.
The solar storms that create the stunning manifestation of the northern lights occur roughly every 11 years.
"The last cycle peak occurred in 2013, though NASA researchers reported that solar maximum was the weakest observed in a century," the report noted.
According to a report in Live Science on Wednesday, the satellite's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite captured the northern lights display from 824 km above the Earth.