Supercharged solar storm strikes Earth on Valentine’s day; Flashes strongest polar lights

On February 14, Valentine's day, a supercharged solar storm struck the Earth. The storm was so intense that it created one of the strongest polar light displays seen in years.

| Updated on: Feb 16 2023, 12:47 IST
6 TERRIFYING solar storms that blasted Earth in 2022
Solar storm
1/6 On June 29, a surprise solar storm struck the Earth. The solar storm was not caused by coronal mass ejections (CME) but by a corotating interaction region (CIR), which opened a hole in the Earth's magnetosphere. It was a G1-class solar storm which is capable of causing shortwave radio blackouts and GPS disruptions. Interestingly, it coincided with the rare five planet alignment event.  (NASA)
Solar storm
2/6 Extremely rare pink auroras could be seen on November 3 near Greenland, after a G1-class solar storm slammed into the Earth. Solar storms usually give a greenish hue due to ionizing of Oxygen atoms. However, the CME in this case was able to reach the lower strata of the atmosphere which ionized Nitrogen atoms and gave off the rare pink aura.  (Representative Photo) (Pixabay)
Solar storm
3/6 On November 6, a powerful solar flare which was estimated to be an X-class solar flare caused temporary radio blackouts in Australia and New Zealand. The resultant solar storm blocked all high frequency radio waves making it hard for various emergency services and airlines that use radio communications to operate for multiple hours.  (Pixabay)
Solar storm
4/6 On August 7 and 8, a mysterious phenomenon was seen after a solar storm strike which scientists call STEVE (strong thermal emission velocity enhancement). A gigantic ribbon of purple light followed by a wave of green light could be seen in many parts of North America.   (@KaniskiDylan / Twitter)
Solar storm
5/6 A rare double solar storm attack was seen on March 14 when a G2-class solar storm was quickly followed up with another G1-class solar storm. Scientists believe that such multiple solar storm attacks are going to be more frequent in coming days as the Sun reaches the peak of its solar cycle. (Pixabay)
Solar storm
6/6 On October 25, the Sun seemed to beam a smile at Earth even as it spewed a stream of dangerous solar particles towards our planet. Multiple dark regions popped up on the Sun that gave an uncanny impression of a smiley face. The resultant solar storm from the event was noted to be a G2-class which is so strong that it is capable of causing fluctuations in electricity grids on Earth.  (SDO/AIA)
Solar storm
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The Valentine’s day solar storm caused one of the most intense polar light displays in years. (Representative Photo) (Pexels)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had predicted that there could be a solar storm event on Valentine's day. However, no one was prepared for its intensity. On February 14, a strong solar storm struck the Earth. While it did not impact any nearby satellites, the coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud was so dense that it created a bright auroral display in the arctic region. Many aurora chasers, including veterans, reported that it was one of the brightest polar lights they have encountered in a long time. Check details of this unexpected solar storm.

The event was reported by, which highlighted, “A well-timed plasma eruption from the sun delivered a Valentine Day's night of auroral splendor for skywatchers in Alaska, with the display's intensity taking by surprise even seasoned aurora chasers”. As per reports, the solar storm that caused the aurora was of G1-class.

Solar storm causes intense polar lights

Vincent Ledvina, an Alaska-based astro photographer and aurora chaser, tweeted about the incident and said, “Everything about tonight was insane. One of the best nights of aurora of my life, maybe the best. We had substorm after substorm, it never let up”. For the unaware, a substorm is a brief disturbance in the Earth's magnetosphere that causes energy to be released from the tail of the magnetosphere and injected into the high latitude ionosphere. In layman's terms, it is an aurora storm that is caused by a solar storm and is seen in short tranches.

Ledvina is a veteran when it comes to aurora photography. As per his website, he took his first aurora photo in his high school and ever since he has been chasing after them. Now, a Ph.D student in the University of Alaska, he continues to take professional photos of polar lights and makes time-lapse videos.

And despite years of watching solar storms impact the atmosphere and create auroral displays, he stated that he had never seen anything like that before. In a separate tweet, he said, “Tonight's aurora in Fairbanks, Alaska was easily one of the brightest I've seen”. He also called the event “straight up magical” and “The most intense red color I've seen”.

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First Published Date: 16 Feb, 12:46 IST