Two powerful solar storms struck Earth in recent days, so people living in lower altitudes enjoyed a one-of-a-kind cosmic show – polar auroras.
According to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), stunning polar auroras were visible in Iowa and Pennsylvania too, while Europeans and Australians also reported seeing them.
The federal agency announced that a potent Earth-directed solar flare was released by the sun on Sunday. It was classified as a G4 (severe) geomagnetic storm, while G5 (extreme) is the worst. The shot charged with magnetic plasma reached our planet faster than expected and produced the most powerful solar storm in a decade.
NOAA reported that there were no incidents related to the electrical grid or GPS systems but there may be fluctuations in some locations. Federal researchers believe that the solar storms may last a few days.
But as the atmosphere’s upper layers struggle to repel the radiation the Sun shells us with, the auroras triggered in the process are simply breath-taking.
The beautiful light show is the result of electrically charged protons trying to reach Earth but being repelled by our planet’s protective magnetic field. But as they manage to get closer to the ground (about 62 miles above surface), they bump into atoms in ionosphere. This process triggers the shimmering light show.
The two solar storms are the strongest on record since September 2005, but a third solar burst was reported to erupt from the sun early today, so the Northern Lights may still be visible for several more days.
But if you want to know whether a polar aurora would occur in your locations, you should visit the Aurora Service forecast website, which provides hourly aurora forecasts on three continents.
NASA said that due to an unusual inclination on the planet’s magnetic field and powerful solar winds, polar auroras would last longer and be more intense this year.
The first solar storm which was deemed S3, or strong, energized the Earth’s northern regions. So, when the second blast came in, the atmosphere was already energized, triggering more spectacular polar auroras.
NASA announced that powerful solar storms and radiation would push auroras even far south toward the equator. And more are expected to occur.
Earlier today, astronomers detected a mid-level flare coming from the sun. The flare is expected to reach Earth and trigger another geomagnetic storm in the next two to three days. But this latest solar burst does not pose any threat to our electrical grids since it has 10 percent intensity of the strongest flare ever recorded.
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