Animation of ultraviolet aurora being produced at Rosetta's comet
ESA's Rosetta mission has revealed a unique kind of aurora, an exciting phenomenon seen throughout the Solar System, at its target comet, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This animation illustrates the mechanism by which this aurora is created: as electrons stream out into space from the Sun and approach the comet, they are accelerated and go on to break down molecules in the comet's environment. This destructive process can throw out excited atoms, which then 'de-excite' to produce the aurora. To characterise this process, researchers used a suite of detectors aboard Rosetta from a number of instrument packages (indicated at the bottom-centre of the frame: RPC, Rosina, Virtis, Miro and Alice).