Solar Storm smashes through Earth's magnetic field! Rare pink auroras streak the sky
A recent solar storm put a hole in the magnetosphere, allowing dangerous solar particles to pass through.
The Sun is in the middle of its 11-year solar cycle leading to an increase in solar activity and solar output in the past few months. As the Sun further enters the peak of its solar cycle, more solar storms are expected to spark geomagnetic storms on the planet. Strong Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) have been observed being emitted from the Sun in the past couple of days. However, none have caused a physical effect as big as the Solar storm which hit Earth on November 3.
According to Live Science, a solar storm hit Earth on November 3, smashing through the Earth's magnetosphere, which is the magnetic field around the planet. Although the hole in the Earth's magnetic field was temporary, it lasted long enough for dangerous solar particles to pass through and penetrate the planet. This breach caused the formation of stunningly rare pink auroras which blanketed the sky.
This rare phenomenon was spotted by a northern lights tour guide named Markus Varik from the Greenlander tour company based near Tromso in Norway. Speaking to Live Science, he said, “These were the strongest pink auroras I have seen in more than a decade of leading tours. It was a humbling experience.”
The breach occurred after a G-1 class solar storm which hit Earth on November 3 and lasted for nearly 6 hours. Spaceweather.com reported,” The storm lasted for more than 6 hours as a crack opened in Earth's magnetic field, allowing solar wind to enter.”
What are Auroras?
Auroras or Northern lights are shifting curtains of light in greens, blues and pinks which light up the night sky in the Northern and Southern poles. They are called Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis in the North Pole and Southern Lights or Aurora Australis in the South Pole.
Auroras occur at the northern and southern poles, according to NASA. Occasionally, space weather interacting with Earth can cause auroras to extend even further away from the poles. These mesmerizing lights are constantly changing shape and intensity, from dim and scattered, to bright enough that they are visible for miles.
Formation of Auroras
According to NASA, when a solar storm interacts with Earth's magnetic field, it results in the formation of geomagnetic storms. The solar particles released during this interact with the various gases present in our atmosphere and form stunning Auroras which are a sight to behold, especially from places like Reykjavik in Iceland and Svalbard in Norway.
Scientists study aurora from a variety of vantage points: below, above, and within. From below, ground based telescopes and radar look upward to track what's happening in the sky. From above, NASA missions such as THEMIS investigate what causes auroras to dramatically shift from slowly shimmering waves of light to wildly shifting streaks of colour, according to the space agency.