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Geomagnetic Storm Produces Brilliant Aurora At High Latitudes

The geomagnetic storm on the night of January 24-25 produced brilliant aurora at high latitudes as seen in this image from Sweden.


Image Courtesy of Peter Rosén.

The coronal mass ejection CME collided with Earth's magnetic field a little after 10 AM ET on January 24, 2012. The influx of particles from the CME amplified the solar radiation storm such that it is now considered the largest since October 2003. NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has categorized it as a "strong" -- or S3 (with S5 being the highest) – storm. Solar radiation storms can affect satellite operations and short wave radio propagation, but cannot harm humans on Earth. Auroras may well be visible tonight at higher latitudes such as Michigan and Maine in the U.S., and perhaps even lower.  

Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the flare, shown here in teal as that is the color typically used to show light in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength in which it is easy to view solar flares. The flare began at 10:38 PM ET on Jan. 22, peaked at 10:59 PM and ended at 11:34 PM. 

Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA

The Solar Heliospheric Observatory captured the coronal mass ejection (CME) in this video (which shows the sun's activity from January 19 to January 23). The end of the movie shows the interference caused by the onslaught of fast, energetic solar particles emitted from the sun.
 Credit: SOHO/ESA & NASA

Contacts and sources:
Karen C. Fox
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center


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