Solar Outburst: A Chance to Witness the Northern Lights

Solar Outburst: A Chance to Witness the Northern Lights

The sun is bustling with impressive eruptions from its surface.

The sun's surface is brimming with activity, and we're in for a celestial treat.

Incoming bursts of energy caused a radio blackout and could bring aurora Thursday to Friday across the northern reaches of the United States and Europe.

On Monday evening, a solar flare occurred that lasted for nearly eight hours.

Yes! Almost eight hours!

A solar flare is caused when the magnetic field lines near sunspots tangle, cross, and reorganize, causing a sudden explosion of energy that can disrupt radio communications on Earth.

The lengthy event was seen along with a separate, large expulsion of plasma and magnetic field from the sun, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), that was headed slightly toward Earth.

NOAA forecast that the coronal mass ejection could pass close enough to Earth by Thursday to cause minor to moderate geomagnetic storming, which could lead to auroras in the mid-latitudes.

Experts say auroras could appear down to the mid-latitudes.

Yes, you are right! That sure is unprecedented.

For a moderate geomagnetic storm, the dancing lights could be seen in the Northeast, northern and central Great Plains, and northern Rockies.

Auroras are created when the sun sends a rush of charged particles, such as through solar flares or coronal mass ejections.

This burst disturbs Earth’s magnetosphere, a bubble surrounding our planet that protects us from harmful solar radiation.

The solar particles collide and compress the magnetosphere, changing the shape and direction of Earth’s magnetic field lines.

Some particles get trapped along those magnetic field lines and are accelerated into our upper atmosphere, where they excite molecules and release photons of light that we see as the aurora.

If the geomagnetic storm ends up fizzling out, scientists say, there will be a lot more opportunity for the dazzling light shows in the upcoming year.

The sun is approaching a period of maximum activity, during which solar eruptions that can lead to auroras are more plentiful.

In recent months, a few geomagnetic storms have struck Earth stronger than initially forecast and brought beautiful aurora sightings much farther south.

Those storms registered as strong to severe, bringing the dancing lights as far south as Arizona.

"The Grand Canyon State"!

Murtagh said this geomagnetic storm could end up being stronger than in its official prediction, but forecasters probably won’t know until the storm travels closer.

If the magnetic field is in an orientation that clicks with Earth’s magnetic field, then it could induce strong geomagnetic storming.

The potential for aurora borealis to appear is an exciting opportunity to witness the beauty of our solar system.

It’s a reminder that we are all connected to the universe in ways we may not fully understand.

The opportunity to witness the aurora borealis is a reminder of our connection to the universe.

So, sit back and hope for clear skies. The northern lights are waiting for you to witness their dance across the sky.