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The world’s earliest recorded aurora was found in bamboo chronicles

Description text”five-color light” was witnessed in the northern part of the night sky at the end of the reign of the emperor Zhāo, the fourth king of the dynasty. Zhou Dynasty in China. According to the study, the exact date of the reign of the emperor Zhāo is not known, but it is more likely that this “five-colored light” event happened in 977 BC or 957 BC.

Researchers discovered this colorful light detail in the Bamboo Chronicle, a fourth-century BC text written on bamboo fragments that chronicles the mythical and early history of China.

Although the Bamboo Chronicle is known to scholars, this particular fresh look has led to the perception that it details what may have been. Aurora earliest described, corresponding study author Hisashi Hayakawa, an assistant professor at the Institute of Space-Earth Environmental Research at Nagoya University in Japan and a visiting scientist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK, said.

The newly analyzed description of “five-color light” likely refers to a geomagnetic storm, Hayakawa and Marinus co-researcher Anthony van der Sluijs, an independent researcher based in Canada, reported. in research. According to NASA, geomagnetic storms occur when the sun emits rays of sunlight, or giant bubbles of electric gas, that travel at high speed through space.

Earth’s magnetosphere normally protects the planet from the energetically charged particles of the Sun, but sometimes these particles penetrate and cause disturbances in the magnetic field, known as geomagnetic storms. Such storms can produce beautiful lights — oxygen emits blue and red light, while nitrogen emits blue and purple light, according to NASA.

In the mid-10th century BC, the Earth’s northern magnetic pole tilted towards Eurasia, about 15 degrees closer to central China than it is today. As a result, it is possible that the ancient peoples of central China – possibly as far south as 40 degrees of latitude, or just north of Beijing – could have seen geomagnetic storms and colorful lights. the colors they produce.

Mid-latitude auroras can show many colors when they’re bright enough, which could explain why the celestial event was recorded as a “five-color light,” the researchers added. .

For example, in October 1847, a sky with colorful auroras was observed over Great Britain, the colors of which are the most brilliant and have exceptional transparency, especially red and blue. leaves and back part of pale emerald…

Previously, the oldest aurora was recorded by Assyrian astronomers on cuneiform tablets, dating from 679 BC to 655 BC.

Hayakawa notes that the latest finding has taken a long time to be recognized for a number of reasons. The original manuscript of the Bamboo Chronicle was lost, recovered in the third century AD and then lost again during the Song dynasty (960 to 1276 AD). In the 16th century, a translation used the word “comet” instead of “five-colored light”.

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