A recent solar storm ripped a hole in the magnetosphere, letting in dangerous solar particles.
The Sun is in the middle of its 11-year solar cycle, which has resulted in an increase in solar activity and solar output over the past few months. As the Sun enters the peak of its solar cycle, more solar storms are expected to trigger geomagnetic storms on the planet. Strong coronal mass ejections (CMEs) have been observed emitted from the Sun over the past two days. However, none caused such a severe physical effect as the solar storm that hit Earth on November 3.
According to Live Science, a solar storm hit Earth on Nov. 3, shattering Earth’s magnetosphere, which is the magnetic field around the planet. Although the hole in Earth’s magnetic field was temporary, it lasted long enough for dangerous solar particles to pass through and enter the planet. This breach caused the formation of incredibly rare pink auroras that blanketed the sky.
This rare phenomenon was spotted by a Northern Lights tour guide named Markus Varik of the Greenlandic Travel Company based near Tromso in Norway. Speaking to Live Science, he said: ‘These are the strongest pink auroras I’ve seen in over a decade of premier touring. It was a humbling experience.
The breach occurred after a G-1 class solar storm hit Earth on November 3 and lasted nearly 6 hours. Spaceweather.com reported “The storm lasted over 6 hours when a fissure opened in the Earth’s magnetic field, allowing solar wind to enter.”
What are auroras?
The Aurora or Aurora Borealis are moving curtains of light in greens, blues and pinks that light up the night sky at the North and South Poles. They are called aurora borealis or aurora borealis at the north pole and aurora australis or aurora australis at the south pole.
Auroras occur at the north and south poles, according to NASA. Sometimes space weather interacting with Earth can push the auroras even further away from the poles. These mesmerizing lights constantly change shape and intensity, going from faint and scattered to bright enough to be visible for miles.
Formation of the aurora
According to NASA, when a solar storm interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field, it leads to the formation of geomagnetic storms. The solar particles released during this interaction with the various gases present in our atmosphere and form stunning auroras that are a sight to behold, especially from places like Reykjavik in Iceland and Svalbard in Norway.
Scientists study the Northern Lights from different vantage points: below, above and inside. From below, ground-based telescopes and radar look up to track what’s happening in the sky. From above, NASA missions such as THEMIS study what causes auroras to change from slowly shimmering waves of light to wildly changing streaks of color, according to the space agency.
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