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Auroras may reach as far south as New York due to massive solar bursts

Updated Oct 25th, 2022 2:56PM EDT
northern lights photo
Image: surangaw / Adobe

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Two coronal mass ejections erupted from the Sun on August 14 and August 15. This, space weather experts have warned, could lead to increased geomagnetic activity. The energy from the solar bursts is expected to reach Earth on August 18, and it could trigger aurora displays as far south as New York.

As always, auroras are caused when solar energy triggers geomagnetic storms in the Earth’s magnetic field. These storms are the result of solar energy and material from the eruptions hitting the Earth’s outer atmosphere. When that happens, it can often create dazzling light shows in the sky.

Normally these lights are only seen in the far north. However, these impending storms could reach further south.

Solar burst eruptions are expected to reach Earth this week

solar flareImage source: joelia / Adobe

When the solar bursts reach Earcht, they could trigger northern lights in the sky as far as south as New York, reports. The resulting geomagnetic activity is the offspring of two solar eruptions that left the Sun earlier this week.

Of course, geomagnetic activity is nothing new, especially as we continue deeper into the Sun’s 11-year cycle and activity ramps up even more. But, these solar bursts are concerning because one of the eruptions could cannibalize the other. If this happens, it would create a powerful coronal mass ejection capable of wreaking havoc on our planet’s magnetic field.

When a geomagnetic storm wreaks havoc on our planet, it has the potential to cause issues with communications, satellites, and more. As such, astronomers and space weather experts are paying close attention to the current dynamic of these two solar bursts. And, as they near Earth, they’ll be looking for any signs of the two combining together into one.

Earth's magnetic field reacting to solar stormImage source: koya979 / Adobe

What’s more, the Sun currently has five sunspot regions that can deliver solar flares. These solar flares reach the Earth almost instantaneously, delivering a blow to our magnetic field. As such, some of these have already caused minor radio blackouts. These solar eruptions are more powerful, though; because we have more lead up to them, we’re able to prepare a bit better for them.

Space weather experts expect we’ll continue to see more solar bursts like this as the Sun’s activity increases before reaching the peak of its 11-year cycle. Once that happens, the Sun’s magnetic poles will switch orientations, and the activity will slowly die down again. All we can do is wait and hope that whatever solar energy reaches us doesn’t cause a major blackout.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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