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The event is rare, but a very lucky group of tourists, led by Markus Varik, tourist guide, witnessed this beautiful sight on November 3. It turned out that a solar storm opened a a break in Earth’s magnetic field, allowing solar particles to penetrate deep into the atmosphere. The result: light effects with unusual colors.
After leading more than a thousand Northern Lights trips over the past decade, Markus Varik thinks he’s seen it all. This does not take into account the spectacle offered by this intense pink aurora, which was observed on November 3 with his group. The aurora appeared around 6pm local time and lasted about 2 minutes. ” This is the most intense pink aurora I have seen in over ten years of guided tours. It was a humbling experience Varik said.
Most of the aurora is green; this is the color of oxygen atoms excited by high-energy particles in the solar wind, 100 to 300 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The pink color appears when energetic particles are able to penetrate deeper into our atmosphere, 100 kilometers and below: it corresponds to the excitation of nitrogen molecules. This unusual event is the result of the formation of a breach in the magnetosphere, noted on November 3, explains Spaceweather.com.
Pink Auroras… and an Amazing Blue Ribbon
A minor, G-1 class solar storm hit the Earth on November 3. Shortly after that, experts noticed a crack in the magnetosphere. When a solar storm hits Earth, most of the energetic particles are deflected by Earth’s magnetic field – which acts as a kind of shield. But others follow the magnetic field lines located at the poles, where the field is less intense.
The solar wind then touches our atmosphere; its particles stimulate gas molecules, which cause the spectacular aurora borealis or australis. Most have a yellow-green color, because oxygen atoms are more abundant where the sun’s particles come in most of the time. The formation of the crack uniquely allows particles to descend at low altitude, producing pink auroras, characteristic of nitrogen atoms. A more intense green aurora also appeared that night.
The magnetosphere rupture closes about 6 hours after forming. Around this time, Swedish observers reported seeing a strange ribbon of blue light. ” It was unlike any aurora I had ever seen before said Chad Blakley, director of Lights over Lapland. This ribbon remained visible and motionless for about 30 minutes, and was surrounded by a green aurora.
A probable Russian missile at the origin of the event
Experts don’t know if this unusual phenomenon is just a type of aurora that hasn’t been seen before – possibly due to the destruction of the magnetosphere – or if it’s something entirely different. ” An auroral arc does not necessarily intersect another auroral arc without interfering with it, so it is difficult to explain it from the point of view of auroral physics. said Toshi Nishimura, a space physicist at Boston University.
Another explanation could be the launch of a missile. In fact, since the end of October, Russia has been carrying out intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) firings from its nuclear cruiser. Peter the Great. The latter is now in the Barents Sea. Missile exhaust is known to produce effects like this. However, many witnesses claim to have seen nothing cross the sky before the appearance of the blue ribbon.
On November 5, Spaceweather.com confirmed the hypothesis, announcing that the Russian nuclear submarine Generalissimus Suvorov had attempted to fire an ICBM from the White Sea. So it may be linked to the mysterious “blue aurora”. A similar event occurred in October 2017: an ICBM Topol, launched from the Plesetsk space center, 800 km north of Moscow, caused the formation of a large blue mass in the sky of northern Scandinavia.
Currently, experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are taking a closer look at the growing large sunspot AR3141 facing Earth. This area has a beta-gamma magnetic field, strong enough to produce an M-class flare. On November 7, it produced an M5-class flare, which caused shortwave radio power outages in the South Pacific, including parts of Australia and all of New Zealand.