This isn’t a real image of the Northern Lights from space

15 July 2021
What was claimed

An image from NASA shows the Northern Lights from space.

Our verdict

This particular image is a computer generation, not a real photo, although many real photos of the Northern Lights taken from space exist.

An image claiming to show the Northern Lights from space has been going viral on Facebook

The post says the image comes “courtesy of NASA” which is true. But the image is not a real photo from space but a computer generation.

As Snopes reported back in 2018, the image is a still image taken from a short video made by NASA to explain the Earth’s magnetic field. 

The Northern Lights, also called the aurora borealis, are a natural phenomenon caused when electrically charged particles from the Sun collide with the Earth and are drawn to the magnetic poles, where they become heated and then glow. 

While this particular image is not real, NASA has taken many genuine photos of the Northern Lights from space.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because this isn’t a real image of the Northern Lights.

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