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Restless star makes for stunning storm

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posted by European Space Agency alias europeanspaceagency on Thursday 21st of February 2019 06:37:26 PM

Geomagnetic activity caused by our star recently created a stir in the skies over Iceland, resulting in the seeming electrification of the night, as captured here by photographer Ollie Taylor. Unpredictable and temperamental, our Sun blasts intense radiation and colossal amounts of energetic material in every direction, creating the ever-changing conditions in space known as ‘space weather’. The solar wind is a constant stream of electrons, protons and stripped-down atoms emitted by the Sun, while Coronal Mass Ejections are the Sun’s periodic outbursts of colossal clouds of solar plasma. The most extreme of these events disturb Earth’s protective magnetic field, creating geomagnetic storms at our planet. Geomagnetic storms can seriously interfere with infrastructure on Earth and in space, and pose a radiation threat to future explorers of the Moon and Mars. It is thought that a solar storm today on the scale of the Carrington event of 1859, would cause billions of euros of damage to satellites, power grids and radio communications. While extreme solar events can’t be prevented, advance warning can give operators time to act to protect critical infrastructure. ESA’s planned Lagrange mission to monitor the Sun will do just that, feeding data into the European Space Weather Service Network. From 3-5 March 2019, ESA will be holding a SocialSpace event in Tromsø, Norway, offering participants the chance to learn all about the stunning Aurora and its slightly sinister origins. Follow @esaoperations and the hashtag #AuroraHunters for all you could want to know about space weather, the aurora and ESA’s plans to protect us from the dangerous outbursts of our Sun. For more of Ollie’s wonderful photography, visit his website. Credits: © Ollie Taylor. Used with permission

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  • Published 06.30.22
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