A stunning video of a breathtaking, ethereal aurora from the European Space Agency's (ESA) all-sky camera provided a glimpse of the dazzling after-effect of a solar outburst on Earth.
Earlier in October, the Sun spewed a coronal mass ejection (CME), which is a "violent mass of fast-moving plasma," the ESA said in a statement. While such solar occurrences could disrupt communications and global positioning systems, they showed such a fascinating array of striking auroras on Earth.
Video Offers Chance to See Beautiful Aurora Amidst Raging Sun Storms
ESA space weather application scientist Hannah Laurens said the video provides an opportunity to "see this beautiful, purple aurora" that happens as "intense geomagnetic storms" rage on, the ESA statement read.
ESA's All-sky camera, which is located in Kiruna, Sweden, is focused to observe the sky from horizon to horizon. As the cameras are designed to view as much sky as possible, they are fitted with fish-eye lens for that all-encompassing view when faced straight up.
Operated by the Kiruna Atmospheric and Geophysical Observatory (KAGO) within the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), the All-sky camera captured the aurora on October 12, Cnet reported. Data was then provided to the ESA Space Weather Service Network, which is part of the agency's Space Safety Programme. The footage gives a fish-eye view of the phenomenon as the aurora shifts its color from green to purple.
The video ran in half-speed to emphasize the gorgeous aurora in motion. It begins with a mass of green, swirling structures then gives off light in the green range of the electromagnetic spectrum. It would then shift to purple in the later part of the footage.
Aurora's Green and Purple Colors Explained
The ESA noted that the green colors are formed as "energetic particles in the solar wind collide with oxygen in Earth's atmosphere." Its transformation to purple happens due to the charged particles interacting with nitrogen describing the occurrence as a real-life lab experiment in the sky, the agency added.
This phenomenon occurred at about 120 to 180 kilometers from the Earth's surface.
Even while Earth inhabitants are safeguarded by the planet's magnetic field, the ESA further noted, such space weather "can have an extreme and disruptive impact" on satellites, infrastructure and society on Earth.
As the Earth's protective magnetosphere blocks the solar wind, there are charged particles that are trapped in the planet's magnetic field and would flow down to the geomagnetic poles. These particles then collide with the upper atmosphere generating the beautiful auroras, the ESA said.
Analyzing the aurora's swirling movement provide scientists the means to monitor space weather conditions, Laurens stressed. It is important in understanding the complex and sometimes hazardous interactions between the Sun and the Earth.
This is the first auroral display observed by the All-sky camera after its integration into the ESA Space Weather Portal. This portal offers information on the Sun's outbursts that would benefit airline pilots, spacecraft or power grid operations, and likewise avid aurora enthusiasts.