Auroras form when electrons from space ride waves in Earth’s magnetic field

The same physics could give rise to auroras on Jupiter and Saturn. By re-creating the conditions for an aurora in the lab, researchers have confirmed how these bright, shimmery curtains of light form. The northern lights arise when electrons from space cascade into the upper atmosphere, where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules to paint the sky red and green (SN: 2/7/20). But it has been difficult to discern what, exactly, draws those electrons down toward Earth. For decades, scientists have suspected that electrons ride ripples in Earth’s magnetic…

The mere sight of illness may kick-start a canary’s immune system

Simply seeing another bird get sick is enough to trigger an immune response in healthy birds. For canaries, just seeing their feathered friends get sick may be enough to preemptively rev up their immune systems. Healthy birds housed within view of fellow fowl infected with a common pathogen mounted an immune response, despite not being infected themselves, researchers report online June 9 in Biology Letters. “It’s fascinating that some sort of visual cue could alter immune function,” says Ashley Love, a disease ecologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.…