This Article is From Nov 08, 2022

After A Solar Storm, A Stunning Pink Aurora Spotted In Earth's Night Skies

On November 3, after a solar storm caused a temporary crack in the Earth's magnetic field, unusual pink aurora borealis swarmed the skies above Norway.

After A Solar Storm, A Stunning Pink Aurora Spotted In Earth's Night Skies

A tour group led by Markus Varik spotted the aurora.

Pink can occasionally be seen in auroral displays that are associated with only high solar activity because they are simply a mixture of different colors. Recently, Markus Varik, a veteran aurora guide, and his group spotted the pink aurora, which lasted for two minutes.

Mr. Varik told, "I have been guiding Aurora tours full-time for the past 10 years. I was thinking, "I have pretty much seen it all.' Little did I know, there was a surprise waiting for me. We were fortunate to head out early for an aurora chase, and due to that, we were able to witness some of the most intense pinks I have ever seen. It was so obviously pink to the naked eye, we were all just stunned."

"These were the strongest pink auroras I have seen in more than a decade of leading tours," Varik said. "It was a humbling experience," he added in conversation with Live Science.

On November 2, Mr. Varik explained on Facebook, "Tonight's Northern Lights didn't even look like Northern Lights, haha." The strongest pink/purple I have ever seen. The sudden outburst happened very early in the evening, and we were very lucky to witness it. "The incredible thing about this nitrogen-fuelled purple is, it looks the same to the naked eye compared to the green, which is almost always stronger inside the camera."

What Exactly Is an Aurora, and What Causes This to Occur?

According to NASA, if you're ever near the North or South Pole, you may be in for a very special treat. Frequently there are beautiful light shows in the sky. These lights are called auroras. If you're near the North Pole, it is called an aurora borealis or northern lights. If you're near the South Pole, it is called an aurora australis, or the southern lights.

Auroras are actually caused by the Sun. The Sun sends us more than heat and light; it sends lots of other energy and small particles our way. The protective magnetic field around Earth shields us from most of the energy and particles, and we don't even notice them.

But the sun doesn't send the same amount of energy all the time. There is a constant stream of solar wind, and there are also solar storms. During one kind of solar storm called a coronal mass ejection, the sun burps out a huge bubble of electrified gas that can travel through space at high speeds.

When a solar storm comes toward us, some of the energy and small particles can travel down the magnetic field lines at the north and south poles and into Earth's atmosphere. There, the particles interact with gases in our atmosphere, resulting in beautiful displays of light in the sky. Oxygen gives off green and red light. Nitrogen glows blue and purple.