Northern Lights: Intense solar storm triggers rare auroral arc in Ladakh sky


A red glow lit up the dark sky over parts of Ladakh in an unusually stable auroral red arc event at the Henley Dark Sky Reserve in the high Himalayas, caused by strong solar magnetic storms initiated landward.

Solar storms or coronal mass ejections from the AR13664 region of the Sun have produced several high-energy solar flares, some of which are traveling toward Earth at speeds of up to 800 kilometers per second, the Center of Excellence in Space Sciences Scientists India (CESSI), Kolkata said.

The spectacular aurora, or northern lights, lit up the sky in the northern hemisphere's high latitudes as skywatchers in Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland, Denmark and Poland shared photos and short videos of the dancing lights on social media.

In pictures Northern Lights: Views from across Europe.

In Ladakh, astronomers at Henley Dark Sky Reserve observed a red glow on the northwestern horizon in the sky from around 1 am on May 11 that continued into the early hours of the morning.

“We were fortunate to have regular telescope observations observing aurora activity on our all-sky camera,” said Stenzen Norla, an engineer at the Henley Dark Sky Reserve. PTI

He said a faint red glow along the horizon was visible to the naked eye and was captured in great detail by a DSLR camera installed at Henley Dark Sky Reserve.

“It spread across the sky from 1 a.m. to 3:30 a.m.,” Stenzen said, adding that the sky turned red along the horizon and later turned pink.

Dorje Angchak, an engineer at the Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle, described the event as a stable auroral red arc, an unusual occurrence in the skies of Ladakh.

“Auroras seen near the north or south poles are dynamic events. They keep changing. But the one seen in Ladakh was more stable. It's called a stable auroral red arc. A constant glow in the sky for a few hours,” Angchak said. said

Debindu Nandi, head of CESSI at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, said such incidents are rare in Hanle because it is located so far south. PTI

He said that places like Henley are more likely to see such events during severe disturbances caused by solar storms.

“These auroral red arcs are probably caused by the heating of the atmosphere by electrical currents that are circulating between Earth and outer space,” Mr Nandi said.

“These currents increase during geomagnetic disturbances caused by solar storms and thus we are more likely to observe red auroral arcs when we are under severe geomagnetic storms,” ​​he said.

CESSI said the sun produced strong solar flares starting May 8, resulting in five bursts of plasma capable of disrupting satellites in orbit and power grids here on Earth.

“We are witnessing severe space weather at a level we haven't seen in the last two decades. It could get worse as more solar storms are expected to impact Earth, or perhaps all,” Mr Nandi said. “There will be more spectacular auroras than this,” said Mr. Nandi.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is calling it an unusual event, noting that the flare is associated with a sunspot 16 times the diameter of Earth. In 2003, an extreme geomagnetic storm knocked out power in Sweden and damaged power transformers in South Africa.

Photo credit has been corrected after publication.

This is a premium article exclusively available to our subscribers. 250+ such premium articles to read every month

You have exceeded your free article limit. Please support quality journalism.

You have exceeded your free article limit. Please support quality journalism.

This is your last free essay.

Leave a Comment

“The Untold Story: Yung Miami’s Response to Jimmy Butler’s Advances During an NBA Playoff Game” “Unveiling the Secrets: 15 Astonishing Facts About the PGA Championship”