Aurora 'extraterrestrialis' lights have been found on other planets

Artist’s impression of the aurorae on the brown dwarf LSR J1835+3259. Image: Chuck Carter and Gregg Hallinan/Caltech

Aurora borealis and australis, the natural lights known as the northern or southern lights, also happen on other planets and space objects.

The latest research has found suggestions of auroral activity in the atmosphere of a small planet-like mass, a brown dwarf star similar to gas giant planets such Jupiter in the constellation Lyra.

The natural light displays known on Earth are also detected from all the other magnetised planets in the Solar System.

They are powered by currents in the magnetosphere, the magnetic field around the planet, which lead to energetic electrons in high latitude regions of the upper atmosphere.

Gregg Hallinan of the California Institute of Technology and colleagues detected radio and optical auroral emissions in LSR J1835, a rapidly rotating, extrasolar body about 18.5 light years away.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

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