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Do the Northern Lights Make a Mysterious 'Clapping' Sound? Listen for Yourself

Do the Northern Lights Make a Mysterious 'Clapping' Sound? Listen for Yourself

"...people can hear natural auroral sounds related to what they see."

The Blaze has brought you many fascinating pictures and time-lapsed video of the northern lights. But, if you have you ever had the chance to see the aurora borealis in person, did you try listening to them? Did you know they could even make a sound?

The sound associated with the mystical lights, which are caused by energetic particles in the atmosphere, has long been a rumor, but a new study may confirm that they do in fact make a clap or clank noise. Over 12 years, researchers at Aalto University in Finland have been trying to record these noises and finally announced they had found evidence of a sound.

The eight-second clip recorded in 2004, which was only just heard in May 2012 after the audio was copied, is thought to be the first time the sound of the northern lights has been captured by three different microphones at the same time.

Here's more from the researchers on the study:

This eight second video is extracted from a set of test recordings that have been collected within the Auroral Acoustics project (2000-2012). During this time period high-quality audio recordings were made during approximately 100 geomagnetically opportune nights at different locations in Finland. These recordings form a database that is half a terabyte in size. This short clip has been selected from some video recording experiments that were performed during some nights simultaneously and independently of the main activities.

Listen to it here:

The team also reports hearing the mysterious sound again on a recording captured in 2011. Universe Today has more from the researchers on these findings:

“In the past, researchers thought that the aurora borealis was too far away for people to hear the sounds it made,” said Unto K. Laine from Aalto University in Finland. “However, our research proves that the source of the sounds that are associated with the aurora borealis we see is likely caused by the same energetic particles from the Sun that create the northern lights far away in the sky. These particles or the geomagnetic disturbance produced by them seem to create sound much closer to the ground.”


“Our research proved that, during the occurrence of the northern lights, people can hear natural auroral sounds related to what they see,” said Laine.

The researchers report that the material is still experimental so the science may not be officially sound on it yet. What exactly causes the noise is also still unknown. The researchers report the sounds not being regularly associated with the northern lights. They also state that given the different descriptions of the sounds -- crackles or muffled bangs -- they believe the mechanism by which they're caused could vary. They do believe their results open "a new phase in the Auroral Acoustics project."

The researchers presented these experimental findings at the ICSV19 proceedings in Vilnius, Lithuania, this week.

(H/T: GeekOWire)

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