A solar storm that erupted from the sun on Monday (Dec. 20) may boost northern lights displays around the north pole just ahead of Santa’s trip this weekend, the U.K. Met Office space weather forecasting center said Wednesday (Dec. 22).
The solar storm was caused by a coronal mass ejection, or CME, a powerful eruption of magnetically charged particles and plasma from the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere, the corona. CMEs directed at Earth can cause geomagnetic storms and disrupt satellite services. These events can also cause auroras to increase in the areas around the North or South Poles.
Monday’s CME, which burst from the sun at 6: 36 a.m. EST (1136 GMT), is expected to reach Earth on Thursday (Dec. 23). It stemmed from a powerful M1.9-class solar flare that erupted from a sunspot called Active Region 2908, according to Spaceweather.com.
“The auroral oval is likely to be slightly enhanced at high latitudes from the 22nd to 24th due to coronal hole geomagnetic activity enhancement, and the chance of a weak coronal mass ejection arriving on the 23rd,” the Met Office wrote on its website.
According to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Weather Network, the sun has been quite busy in the past week with several active regions springing up on its scorching surface in the run-up to Christmas.
The geomagnetic storm triggered by the Monday CME is only expected to be minor, the Met Office said. Geomagnetic storms are caused by charged particles from the sun interacting with the planet’s magnet field. These particles will be directed above the poles by Earth’s magnetic fields, which is why you see auroras in these areas.
If you hope to see the northern light, check out our guide on where and how to photograph the aurora. Our picks for the best equipment for aurora photography and how to edit aurora photos can help you capture their ethereal glow on camera.
Tereza, a London-based science journalist and video producer, is a health blogger and health blogger. Her roots are in Prague, Czech Republic. She spent her first seven years as a journalist, script-writer, and presenter on various Czech TV programs. Later, she took a break from her career to study further and completed a Master’s in Science at the International Space University in France to complement her Bachelor’s in Journalism from Prague’s Charles University. She is passionate about sustainability, meditation, psychology, and nutrition.