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Solar Storm Caused by Hole in Sun Brings Northern Lights

Solar Storm Caused by Hole in Sun Brings Northern Lights
A surfer looks at northern lights on March 9, 2018, in Utakleiv, northern Norway, Lofoten islands, within the Arctic Circle. (Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images)

By | Thursday, 12 April 2018 02:59 PM

A solar storm caused by a massive "hole" on the sun's surface led the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center to issue a warning earlier this week, according to Space.com.

The center had issued the geomagnetic storm warning for Tuesday and Wednesday after data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory showed a region where the sun's magnetic field had opened up, wrote Space.com.

That led to the creation of a coronal hole, which allows charged particles to escape and flow toward Earth in an increased solar wind, per Space.com.

"For much of this week the sun featured three substantial coronal holes," NASA said in a statement on its Solar Dynamics Observatory page last week. "Coronal holes appear as large dark areas which are identified with arrows in the still image.

"This wind, if it interacts with Earth's magnetosphere, can cause aurora to appear near the poles. They are not at all uncommon," NASA continued.

Residents in northern areas of the United States saw northern lights earlier this week, including parts of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, northern Maine, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota, Country Living reported.

The space weather prediction center's G1 warning amounted to a minor storm warning.

More powerful solar storms have the potential to damage transformers on power girds and disrupt satellites and electronics like cellphones, GPS systems, and sensitive timekeeping devices, according to NASA.

According to the space weather center, coronal holes can develop at any time and location on the sun, but are more common and persistent during the years around solar minimum. Because of coronal hole's potential for escalated geomagnetic activity and possible storming of G1 or higher, forecasters analyze coronal holes closely and also note them on the daily synoptic drawing, per the center.

Science Alert.com wrote that some have blamed geomagnetic storms for marine mammal beachings themselves as the interference with Earth's magnetic field interferes with their internal compasses.

NASA, though, has found no clear connection of geomagnetic storms and marine animal beaching, per the website. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center along with the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management are looking into the phenomenon.

"We've learned so far there is no smoking gun indicating space weather is the primary driver," Goddard space weather scientist Antti Pulkkinen said in a NASA statement last December. "But there is a sense that geomagnetic conditions may be part of a cocktail of contributing factors."

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TheWire
A solar storm brought northern lights to parts of the United States this week, after data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory showed a region where the sun's magnetic field had opened up.
solar storm, hole, sun, northern lights
407
2018-59-12
Thursday, 12 April 2018 02:59 PM
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