A powerful solar storm is enhancing the auroras

AstropillsAstropills on Earth

Well yes, even in the Italian skies, it has been possible to see the glow of the aurora borealis. Contrary to what many conspiracy theorists are claiming online, the phenomenon is entirely natural and is caused by a powerful solar storm. There are no health consequences for humans, and it is not triggered by any substance or imaginary chemical trail.

In fact, skywatchers from all over the world are witnessing the magnificent spectacle of auroral lights. The northern lights have even been reported as far south as Greece and Turkey. This is a rare phenomenon as auroras are visible almost exclusively in polar regions. At those latitudes, the interaction between the Earth’s magnetic field and the swarm of particles from the Sun is more intense.

In the past, very intense solar storms in previous solar cycles have given rise to auroras visible almost to the equator. We remember, for example, the solar storm of March 13, 1989, and the Halloween storms in 2003.

What are they and how do they form

The colorful manifestations of the aurora were triggered by a powerful solar storm that generated a geomagnetic storm that peaked at G3 on November 5 at 17:40 GMT. The scale of 5 degrees used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) evaluates the severity of space weather events.

Geomagnetic storms are disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field. Naturally, they are caused by solar material derived from coronal mass ejections (CMEs). These solar phenomena are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the solar atmosphere. This particular geomagnetic storm was triggered by two CMEs that collided with the Earth on November 4 and 5.

During a solar storm, energized particles from the sun collide with the Earth‘s atmosphere at speeds of up to 72 million km/h. The magnetic field of our planet channels the particles towards the poles, thus supercharging the molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, triggering the colorful displays.

A spectacular photo

Selected by NASA as Apod (a photo of the day), the sky immortalized by astrophotographer Giorgia Hofer is composed of the red of the aurora borealis alongside the Milky Way, in the background of the Alps. Hofer, from Vigo di Cadore (Belluno), is also the first astrophotographer to capture such a phenomenon in Italy with her lens.

The image captures in the foreground the town of Comelico Superiore in the Italian Alps. At the top, the central band of the Milky Way, while on the right, the aurora colors the sky a bright red. It is a composition of images in the foreground and background taken consecutively with the same camera and from the same position.

Sofia Bianchi
Latest posts by Sofia Bianchi (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *