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An ancient Chinese text contains the earliest known record of a candidate aurora

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An ancient Chinese text contains the earliest known record of a candidate aurora-GadgetAny
candidate aurora

According to an April paper in the journal Advances in Space Research, a pair of researchers discovered the earliest description of a candidate aurora in an ancient Chinese text. The authors believe the event occurred between 977 and 957 BCE. Three centuries later, an Assyrian cuneiform tablet dated 679-655 BCE contains the next-earliest description of a candidate aurora.

As previously stated, the stunning kaleidoscopic effects of the so-called northern lights (or southern lights if they are in the Southern Hemisphere) are caused by charged particles from the Sun being dropped into the Earth’s magnetosphere, where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules, exciting those molecules and causing them to glow.

There are several types of aurora displays, including “diffuse” auroras (a faint glow near the horizon), the more rare “picket fence” and “dune” displays, and “discrete aurora arcs”—the most intense, which appear in the sky as shimmering, undulating curtains of light. Discrete aurora arcs could be so bright that they can be used to read a newspaper. That was the case in August and September 1859, when a major geomagnetic storm, known as the Carrington Event, produced dazzling auroras visible across the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australia.

The Bamboo Annals is a bamboo-strip-written chronicle of ancient China that begins with the Yellow Emperor and continues through the Warring States period (5th century-221 BCE).

Ancient Chinese Text
Image: M.A. van der Sluijs & H. Hayakawa, 2022

The Bamboo Annals was written during the Song dynasty (960–1279 CE) and originally consisted of 13 scrolls. The “current text,” consisting of two scrolls printed in the late 16th century, many scholars believe is a forgery. The other version is known as the “ancient text,” and was pieced together by studying older books dating back to the 8th century.

Toward the end of King Zhao’s reign, an ancient Chinese text refers to the appearance of a “five-colored light” in the northern sky. Auroras are only visible in polar regions since the particles follow the Earth’s magnetic field lines, which radiate from the poles. Strong geomagnetic storms, on the other hand, can cause auroral ovals to broaden into lower latitudes, often preceded by multicolored lights.

Astronomers believe they have discovered an unidentified sighting of a multicolored phenomenon in the northern sky at night. The passage in question was translated as a “comet” instead of a “five-colored light” in the 16th-century current text. This is the reason the candidate aurora has yet to be identified.

Raulf Hernes

By Raulf Hernes

If you ask me raulf means ALL ABOUT TECH!!

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