The Universe celebrates St. Patrick’s Day (Synopsis)

“‘You are a different kind of Irishman, Goll,’ was all she said.
‘Every Irishman is a different kind of Irishman,’ said Goll.” -
Charles Brady

Sure, we're all a little bit Irish today. We celebrate in a plethora of different ways, the most common of which is to prominently display the color most associated with Ireland: green.

But did you know that not only is the planet Earth on track to celebrate St. Paddy's day in style with a spectacular auroral display, but that even though there's no such thing as a green star, our Sun someday might turn green anyway?

Image credit: European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope / ESO VLT, of planetary nebula IC 1295. Image credit: European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope / ESO VLT, of planetary nebula IC 1295.

Come learn about how the Universe celebrates St. Paddy's Day today!


More like this

“Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.” -Ovid With all that we know of astronomy, with the hundreds of billions of galaxies and hundreds of billions of stars in each that we know are there, it might surprise you to learn that the stars -- for the most part -- don't…
"I would rather be adorned by beauty of character than jewels. Jewels are the gift of fortune, while character comes from within." -Plautus When it comes to astronomy, there's no doubt that I've got a northern hemisphere bias. It's no surprise, of course; I live here. And while I often write about…
"[F]or those of us who can't readily accept the God formula, the big answers don't remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our…
"They will see us waving from such great heights 'Come down now,' they'll say. But everything looks perfect from far away 'Come down now.' But we'll stay." -The Postal Service Welcome back to another Ask Ethan! You keep sending in your questions and suggestions, and each week, I'll pick one of my…

Had to get to work at 4 am so missed this show although it was visible on my location at 55 degrees around 2300. Bummer

By Josef Nedstam (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

The structure of the aurora has always puzzled me.
Why it manifests sharply delfined at the bottom, and vertically fades with altitude.
I presume an atmospheric layer or boundary defines the bottom edge, and fades upward as a function of energy, concentration of elements or combination of both.
Just a guess with my fundamental grasp of the physics involved, but I would really like to understand why.

You do such a good job explaining the physical nature of processes to laymen, I was compelled to ask for your help.
I have read many articles on aurora, and have an understanding of everything except the vertical structure and the fading.

Thank you for your time!
- David

By David Andrews (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink