The Northern (and Southern for that matter) Lights are now a bit less mysterious. It turns out that they are caused by explosions of magnetic energy between Earth and the moon, according to NASA.
A network of five satellites on a mission known as THEMIS studied the phenomenon for a year to help gain this insight into the aurora borealis. The energy explosions that take place a third of the way between Earth and the moon power substorms which cause the sudden brightening and rapid movements of the northern lights.
The substorms are caused by magnetic reconnection, a process that occurs when magnetic field lines around all matter quickly snap to a new shape. This releases energy stored in the stretched magnetic field lines, sending charged particles toward the Earth. When these hit our atmosphere…boom the glowing lights at the poles begin to move in their dazzling, spectacular light show.