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If you live in the northern hemisphere expect for a surprise this year since a violent solar storm could spark celestial light show on New Year’s Eve. Experts said that the radiation produced by an M-class solar storm on Dec. 28, could trigger the Northern Lights through Dec 31.
The announcement was made by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also stated that the shimmering light show would be visible in some southern states, as well, including Illinois and Oregon.
Solar storms vary a lot. There are currently five classes of geomagnetic storms, from G1 to G5. NOAA experts said that the latest storm is of a G3 class (Strong), which means that it can affect ground power grids, GPS systems, and cause other disturbances.
NOAA said the radiation hitting Earth would last several days starting Dec 30, but declined to provide details on peaking hours. The agency said that on New Year’s Day the solar radiation would calm down, so it isn’t clear whether there would be enough radiation to keep the Northern Lights lit.
Experts believe that the natural fireworks would be the most spectacular this evening for those that live in northern states. There’s a slight chance for Bay area residents to take a glimpse at the aurora, as well.
Nevertheless, NOAA explained that the storm needs to be of certain strength for the northern lights to be visible from lower latitudes. Scientists explained that the radiation hitting our upper atmosphere right now was caused by a solar flare which was ejected by the sun Monday.
The resulting radiation reached Earth on Wednesday, early in the morning, and its effects could last until News Year’s Day. An unusual G4 geomagnetic storm is expected to hit California, so Californians should also expect to see the eerie light show.
Auroras are footprints of the Sun-Earth sometimes violent interactions. The more auroras we see, the higher the solar activity that year is. The Northern Lights are the final result of a process which starts with the sun spewing high-energy particles toward Earth.
When the resulting radiation and the particles slam our planet, they are repelled by the geomagnetic field, which according to scientists is created by the spinning molten core deep within Earth.
Since the poles of the magnetic field are located approximately on the planet’s own poles, the currents of charged particles are drawn to the planet’s poles. In the process, the currents interact with ions of oxygen and nitrogen in the upper atmosphere changing their state of energy. The extra energy radiates as light which creates the northern lights.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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