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Big northern lights: What's the trigger?

Cosmic/Space News

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Light show: A northern lights display danced across the sky in Red River, Wis., last December.
EVAN SIEGLE/GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE/AP

Feb 15, 2007
NASA is launching satellites Friday to determine what's behind destructive energy pulses.
By Peter N. Spotts Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
From the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Poker Flat Research Range near Fairbanks, Alaska, scientists this week are working to unravel the mystery behind bursts of energetic particles that can turn a so-so display of northern lights into a breathtaking show.
These particles come from the sun and build up within Earth's magnetic field. Then, something snaps and they hurtle toward Earth's poles. The mystery: What triggers the sudden release?
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