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In this activity students use simple algebra and basic electrical principles to explore the formation of auroras by currents from the magnetotail region. They discover that scientists have proposed that changes in the magnetic field in the magnetotail region cause releases of energy that eventually supply the "battery" (stored energy) to light up the aurora on Earth. Students also learn that energy is stored in a magnetic field, and the amount depends on how strong the field is, and how big a volume it occupies. During the activity they estimate just how much magnetic energy is available in the magnetic tail region of Earth.
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