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University of Iowa physicists prove origins of northern lights

Shot in the interior of Alaska from Birch Lake, purplish clouds and green aurora are fanned out...
Shot in the interior of Alaska from Birch Lake, purplish clouds and green aurora are fanned out behind the trees with clear starry skies in the background(Elizabeth M. Ruggiero | Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 7:52 AM CDT
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(CNN) - People have been in awe of the Northern Lights for centuries, but now physicists from the University of Iowa know what causes them.

The physicists proved the lights are produced by powerful electromagnetic waves that accelerate electrons toward earth during geomagnetic storms.

The theory was first put forward by a Russian scientist in 1946.

Now, with the theory proven, scientists can recreate Aurora Borealis using a large plasma device at a UCLA lab.

Scientists now want to tackle predicting how strong a particular geomagnetic storm will be.

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