Solar Storm Holes in Earth’s Magnetosphere, Creates Extremely Rare Pink Auroras
An explosion of extremely rare pink auroras recently lit up the night sky over Norway after a solar storm hit Soil and tore a hole in the planet’s magnetic field. The breach allowed highly energetic solar particles to penetrate deeper into the atmosphere than usual, triggering the unusual colored lights.
The stunning light show was spotted on November 3rd by a tour group led by Markus Varik, a northern Lights guide of the Greenlander tour company (opens in new tab) located near Tromsø in Norway. The vibrant auroras formed around 6 p.m. local time and lasted about 2 minutes, Varik told Live Science in an email.
“These were the strongest pink auroras I’ve seen in over a decade of leading tours,” Varik said. “It was a humbling experience.”
The pink auroras formed shortly after a small crack appeared in the magnetosphere – an invisible one magnetic field surrounding earth generated by the planet’s liquid metallic core. Scientists discovered the breach after a small G-1 class solar storm slammed into the earth on November 3, according to spaceweather.com (opens in new tab).
Related: Do alien auroras exist on other planets?
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Auroras are formed when streams of highly energetic charged particles known as solar winds pass around the magnetosphere. The planet’s magnetic field protects us from cosmic rays, but the shield is naturally weaker at the North and South poles, allowing the solar wind to skim through the atmosphere — usually between 62 and 186 miles (100 and 300 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. . As solar particles pass through the atmosphere, they superheat gases, which then glow vividly in the night sky, according to NASA (opens in new tab).
Auroras usually look green because oxygen atoms, which are abundant in the part of the atmosphere that the solar wind normally reaches, emit that hue when excited. However, during the recent solar storm, the crack in Earth’s magnetosphere allowed the solar wind to penetrate below 62 miles, where nitrogen is the most abundant gas, according to Spaceweather.com. As a result, the auroras gave off a neon-pink glow as the supercharged particles smashed into nitrogen atoms for the most part.
The crack in Earth’s magnetosphere also helped generate strong green auroras throughout the night, Varik said.
The magnetosphere hole closed about 6 hours after it first opened. During this time, a strange ribbon of blue light also appeared in the sky over Sweden, where it hung motionless in the sky for about 30 minutes, according to spaceweather.com (opens in new tab).
However, experts aren’t sure whether this unusual phenomenon was a never-before-seen type of aurora caused by the degraded magnetosphere, or whether it was the result of something else. An expert suggested the ribbon could be made from frozen fuel from a Russian rocket, but no rockets were seen in the area, according to Spaceweather.com.
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