Powerful Solar Storm could lead to Aurora Borealis on New Year Eve

Powerful Solar Storm could lead to Aurora Borealis on New Year Eve

A ‘strong’ solar storm on New Year’s Eve would let people at certain locations enjoy aurora borealis (the Northern Lights), according to Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. People in Illinois and Oregon could also witness the Northern Lights as the powerful solar storm will impact our planet.

According to NOAA, the current solar storm can be termed as G3 event and it could impact radio communication on our planet. It could also lead to fluctuations in some power grids. At higher locations, there could be blackout of radio signals and disturbance in GPS signals.

The amazing lights known as aurora borealis are caused due to coronal mass ejections which interfere with Earth’s magnetic field. The CME was noticed by astronomers on December 28.

The current CME would widen the region in which aurora borealis can be seen. The peak activity was on December 30. In certain regions, people will be able to see it even on New Year’s Eve.

According to NOAA Space Weather Center, there would be minor geomagnetic storms on December 31.

NOAA SWPC release said, “The coronal mass ejection (CME) observed on 28 December arrived at Earth early on 31 December 2015. G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storm levels have been reached and there is still a slight possibility that we will see G3 (Strong) storms as effects persist. G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storms are expected to continue into 01 January 2016 as CME effects are expected to last through the start of the New Year before transitioning into a coronal hole high speed stream regime.”

Auroras are produced when the magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the solar wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere), where their energy is lost. The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying colour and complexity.

A quiescent solar wind flowing past the Earth’s magnetosphere steadily interacts with it and can both inject solar wind particles directly onto the geomagnetic field lines that are ‘open’, as opposed to being ‘closed’ in the opposite hemisphere, and provide diffusion through the bow shock. It can also cause particles already trapped in the radiation belts to precipitate into the atmosphere. Geomagnetic disturbance from an enhanced solar wind causes distortions of the magnetotail ("magnetic substorms"). These ‘substorms’ tend to occur after prolonged spells (hours) during which the interplanetary magnetic field has had an appreciable southward component.

Acceleration of auroral charged particles invariably accompanies a magnetospheric disturbance that causes an aurora. This mechanism, which is believed to predominantly arise from wave-particle interactions, raises the velocity of a particle in the direction of the guiding magnetic field.