They are renowned for providing a breathtaking spectacle across the Arctic Circle.
But after a huge solar flare triggered a coronal mass ejection (CME) hurtling towards Earth, the Northern Lights could be seen as far south as Scotland and northern England this weekend .
The CME is expected to produce geomagnetic storms when it hits our planet late Sunday or early Monday, allowing the spectacular natural phenomenon to be spotted in northern parts of the UK.
Not only that, but cloud cover is expected to be relatively minimal Sunday night and Monday, meaning skywatchers have every chance of being spotted.
Also known as the Northern Lights, the Northern Lights are mostly seen in high latitude regions, so any glimpse across the UK is a rare treat for stargazers.
The Northern Lights could be seen as far south as Scotland and northern England on Sunday, when a huge coronal mass ejection hits Earth (stock image)
The CME is expected to produce geomagnetic storms when it hits our planet late Sunday or early Monday, helping to spot the spectacular natural phenomenon in northern parts of the UK (pictured above).
WHAT ARE AURORA AND WHAT TRIGGERS THE AMAZING NATURAL DISPLAYS?
The aurora borealis and australis are natural light shows triggered in our atmosphere, also known as ‘auroras’.
There are two types of aurora borealis: the aurora borealis, which means “dawn from the north”, and the aurora australis, “dawn from the south”.
The screens light up when electrically charged solar particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
Usually the particles, sometimes called a solar storm, are deflected by the Earth’s magnetic field.
But during stronger storms, they enter the atmosphere and collide with gas particles, including hydrogen and helium.
These collisions emit light. Auroral displays appear in many colors although pale green and pink are common.
The aurora appears when atoms in Earth’s high altitude atmosphere collide with energetic charged particles from the sun, creating breathtaking colors of green with a hint of pink, red and purple.
It is seen more often in winter when the nights are cold, long and dark.
The reason people across the UK will have a chance to see the Northern Lights is that a CME that left the sun yesterday is expected to hit Earth late Sunday or early Monday.
Its effects will likely continue through Monday evening, making auroras visible along the northern horizon if skies are clear, experts said.
Those from Scotland and the North of England will have a chance to witness this spectacular spectacle.
The Met Office said: “Satellite images show a CME leaving the sun yesterday which could produce minor/moderate geomagnetic storms on 13 or 14 March, with aurora sightings possible over Scotland and northern Scotland. ‘England.”
In an article in the Space Weather section of its website, the Met Office added: ‘Yesterday’s large CME has been analyzed and is expected to have an Earth-directed component, which is expected to arrive late on Day 3 (13th) or early on day 4 (14).’
A solar or geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance to the Earth’s magnetosphere – the area around Earth controlled by the planet’s magnetic field – caused by CMEs.
Although our sun gives us life, it also “sneezes” frequently, ejecting billions of tons of hot plasma into space in colossal masses of matter strung with magnetic fields – in other words, CMEs.
It emits gigantic flares, bursts of powerful electromagnetic radiation – X-rays, gamma rays and radio bursts – accompanied by streams of highly energetic particles.
In November last year, the Northern Lights were visible above Hadrian’s Wall following a coronal mass ejection from the sun. The fascinating display has spread as far south as Cambridgeshire
A spectacular display of the Northern Lights seen over Derwentwater, near Keswick in the Lake District, last November has photographers and skygazers in awe
These violent solar sneezes sometimes spin outward from the sun in our direction, delivering radiation, energy, and charged particles that distort and disrupt the Earth’s protective magnetic field (the magnetosphere) and upper atmosphere.
When a solar storm is heading our way, some of the energy and small particles can travel along magnetic field lines at the north and south poles into the Earth’s atmosphere.
There, the particles interact with gases in our atmosphere, resulting in beautiful displays of light in the sky – the Northern Lights. Oxygen emits green and red light, while nitrogen emits blue and violet light.
The aurora can be seen near the poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. To the north the display is known as the Aurora Borealis and to the south it is called the Aurora Australis.
The Northern Lights have fascinated people on Earth for centuries, but the science behind them hasn’t always been understood.
Our planet has an invisible force field, the magnetosphere, which protects us from dangerous charged particles from the sun.
The magnetosphere is the area around the Earth controlled by the planet’s magnetic field.
Science expert Marty Jopson said: “While it gives us shelter, it also creates one of the most awe-inspiring phenomena on Earth – the Northern Lights.
“When the deadly solar winds encounter the Earth’s magnetosphere, some of the charged particles are trapped and propelled along Earth’s magnetic field lines directly toward the poles.
“And when they reach Earth, they hit atoms and molecules in our atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of light.”
The problem is that disruption of our magnetic field creates solar storms that can affect orbiting satellites, navigation systems, terrestrial power grids, and data and communications networks.
“Adverse space weather has affected Earth before, but as we become increasingly dependent on systems and technologies vulnerable to solar outbursts, future solar impacts could be even more disruptive,” according to the European Space Agency. .
SOLAR STORMS PRESENT A NECID DANGER TO ASTRONAUTS AND CAN DAMAGE SATELLITES
solar stormsor solar activity, can be divided into four main components that can have impacts on Earth:
- solar flares: A large explosion in the atmosphere of the sun. These flares are made up of photons that travel directly from the site of the flare. Solar flares only impact the Earth when they occur on the side of the sun facing the Earth.
- Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): Large clouds of plasma and magnetic field shooting out from the sun. These clouds can burst in any direction and then continue in that direction, plowing through the solar wind. These clouds only cause impacts on Earth when directed towards Earth.
- High speed solar wind stream: These come from coronal holes on the sun, which form anywhere on the sun and usually only when closer to the solar equator do the winds hit the earth.
- Solar energy particles: High-energy charged particles thought to be released primarily by shocks formed ahead of coronal mass ejections and solar flares. When a CME cloud passes through the solar wind, solar energetic particles can be produced and because they are charged, they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth. Only charged particles that follow the magnetic field lines that intersect the Earth will have an impact.
Although these may seem dangerous, astronauts are not in immediate danger from these phenomena due to the relatively low orbit of manned missions.
However, they must be concerned about cumulative exposure during spacewalks.
This photo shows the sun’s coronal holes on an X-ray image. The outer solar atmosphere, the corona, is structured by strong magnetic fields which, when closed, can cause the atmosphere to be suddenly and violently released from bubbles or tongues of gas and magnetic fields called mass ejections. coronals.
Damage caused by solar storms
Solar flares can damage satellites and have a huge financial cost.
Charged particles can also threaten airlines by disrupting the Earth’s magnetic field.
Very large eruptions can even create currents in electrical networks and cut off energy supplies.
When coronal mass ejections hit Earth, they cause geomagnetic storms and enhanced aurora borealis.
They can disrupt radio waves, GPS coordinates and overload electrical systems.
A large influx of energy could flow into high voltage power grids and permanently damage transformers.
It could shut down businesses and homes around the world.