Severe solar storm produces dazzling, swirling aurora captured by camera

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This mix of green and purple auroral lights was captured by a panoramic camera in Sweden on October 12, 2021.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser / CNET

Earlier this month the sun spat out what the European Space Agency describes as a “violent mass of rapidly moving plasma” known as coronal mass ejection. These CMEs can disrupt communications and GPS systems, but can also produce exceptional auroras on Earth. ESA posted an eye-catching video of one of the glowing light shows that followed the coronal mass ejection on October 9.

“What I love about this video is the chance to see this beautiful purple aurora, more clearly visible during intense geomagnetic storms,” ​​said Hannah Laurens, a scientist specializing in space weather applications. ESA statement Last week.

The video is from the fisheye perspective of an all-sky camera in Kiruna, Sweden, which faces to see the sky from horizon to horizon. The camera, part of ESA’s space weather service network, observed the dawn on October 12. The video gives the impression of watching a magical crystal ball as the dawn turns from green to purple.

The colors green are “created when energetic particles from the solar wind collide with oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere,” ESA said. The rarest purple colors come from charged particles interacting with nitrogen. It’s a fantastic laboratory experiment in the sky – with real implications.

“While humans on Earth are protected by Earth’s magnetic field,” ESA said, “space weather can have an extreme and disruptive impact on orbiting satellites and infrastructure on Earth, and ultimately on our society.” .

Laurens noted that studying the swirling motion of the aurora helps scientists monitor space weather conditions.

The all-sky camera video is intended for serious scientific study, but it’s also worth a few moments to marvel at the connection between the sun’s moods and life on this planet.

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