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Auroral storm

Ronald Hanaki
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New Scientist reports on a breakthrough in the understanding of auroral storms.

Violent magnetic explosions strike at incredible speed high above Earth and researchers now believe they know why.

The key to their ferocity is that they release pent up magnetic energy incredibly quickly. Physicists have puzzled over how they do this for almost four decades. Now researchers from Kyoto University, Japan, have used satellite observations to unravel the mystery.

The new insight will also help understand the similar, but much larger, explosions on the Sun that create solar flares. It could even help physicists understand how to harness nuclear fusion, as similar phenomena are observed in tokamak reactors.

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