Spectacular Northern Lights Display Pictured After Violent Solar Storm Hits Earth

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A spectacular Northern Lights display has been photographed over the skies of northern Europe, after Nasa scientists reported a powerful space storm buffeting Earth.

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Experts said stargazers could expect to see another spectacular display on Thursday night as the solar wind stream continued to hit Earth’s magnetic field Photo: ØYSTEIN LUNDE INGVALDSE/ SPACESTORIES.COM

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A picture taken by the sun observation satellite Solar Dynamics Observatory SDO shows an exceptionally heavy plasma eruption on the surface of the sun Photo: EPA

The stunning auroras, witnessed on Wednesday night, are the first of the season following the area’s light summer nights.

The displays were created from bursts of activity on the Sun earlier this week.

The subsequent magnetic activity, above a sunspot numbered 1105, produced an explosive flare that was recorded by Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

The flare then sent a stream of charged particles racing towards Earth at 250 miles per second.

After the sunspot rotated away from Earth, the explosive region erupted once more, creating a second solar flare, a fantastic prominence that sent a coronal mass ejection into space.

Nasa said because the Sun had already rotated the flares the flares did not pose any threat to the Earth. Images taken by the space agency show the prominence flaring from the sun.

The auroral lights’ colours were created through a series of reactions between atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The green colours stem from oxygen molecules while the more unusual purple colour is derived from molecular nitrogen.

Experts said stargazers could expect to see another spectacular display on Thursday night as the solar wind stream continued to hit Earth’s magnetic field.

Another series of spectacular auroras were witnessed by photographer by (MUST SEE!) Øystein Lunde Ingvaldsen, a Norwegian musician.

Mr Ingvaldsen, also an amateur astronomer, continued to photograph the event in Bø, Vesterålen, in the country’s Nordland area, until the early hours of Wednesday morning.

“I was on my way to bed when I suddenly saw the auroras dancing on the sky through my bedroom window,” he said.

“I took my camera and drove to a place where I figured I could get some good pictures, and the sight that met me was truly amazing.”

“It’s not often I get to see purple auroras, this was truly a fantastic sight.”

Scientists say such natural light displays are difficult to predict because solar storms have differing timings between peak bursts.

By Andrew Hough, and Sarah Kelley
Published: 6:00PM BST 09 Sep 2010

Source: The Telegraph

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