Dazzling northern lights illuminate skies in Europe as ‘extreme’ solar storm hits Earth

Strong solar storm brings northern lights

An unusually powerful solar storm hit Earth and brought dazzling northern lights across the globe, including North America, Europe, Australia, and some parts of Asia.

This solar storm is reportedly the strongest in 20 years after the latest one in 2003. According to Associated Press, there were no immediate reports of disruptions to power and communications.

The lights are likely to persist for a few days.

Strong solar storm strikes Earth on Friday

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center said the solar storm struck Earth on Friday (10 May).

Later, it was upgraded to an ‘extreme’ G5-level geomagnetic storm, the most severe since the Halloween storms of 2003, which had resulted in blackouts in Sweden and damage to power infrastructure in South Africa.

NOAA also noted that the storm could produce the northern lights, also known as aurora borealis, as far south as Alabama and Northern California.

Source: @AridianVR on Twitter

The Guardian reported that the aurora borealis sightings were seen in many parts of the United Kingdom (UK), including Essex, Cambridgeshire, Berkshire, Suffolk, and Liverpool, as well as in Ireland.

This has led many excited onlookers to share stunning pictures of the lights.

Source: @mstebbins23 on Twitter

The UK Met Office said that many regions across Asia, Europe, and North America could likely see the northern lights if skies during the night are dark and clear enough.

G5 storm could disrupt communications & power grids

During geomagnetic storms, magnetic fields can create electric currents in long wires like power lines, which can cause power outages. Additionally, long pipelines may also get electrically charged, causing technical issues.

“Geomagnetic storms can impact infrastructure in near-Earth orbit and on Earth’s surface, potentially disrupting communications, the electric power grid, navigation, radio and satellite operations,” NOAA said.

Officials alerted satellite operators, airlines, and the power grid to prepare for possible disruptions, said Channel News Asia (CNA).

However, the storm’s radiation cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to directly harm humans on the ground.

Also read: Eta Aquarids meteor shower to illuminate S’pore sky, likely most visible on 6 May

Eta Aquarids meteor shower to illuminate S’pore sky, likely most visible on 6 May

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Featured image adapted from @AridianVR on Twitter and @mstebbins23 on Twitter.

 

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