Recently, during a strong solar storm hitting the Earth, an aurora borealis was sighted over Hanle village in Ladakh.

More on the News: 

  • Northern lights (aurora borealis) were witnessed in parts of the world, including in the United States, Europe and China.
  • Meanwhile, southern lights (aurora australis) were spotted in countries such as New Zealand and Australia.
  • The Indian Astronomical Observatory captured the aurora borealis above Mount Saraswati in Ladakh’s Hanle region, a rare sight at lower latitudes such as 34-36°N.

About the auroras:

  • Auroras are natural lights that look like colourful curtains in the night sky. 
  • It is seen in different colours like blue, red, yellow, green, and orange etc.
  • It usually appears near the North and South Poles all year, but sometimes it can be seen in lower latitudes too. 
  • In the north, it is called the aurora borealis, and in the south, known as the aurora australis.

Causes of auroras:

  • It is due to activity on the Sun’s surface. 
  • The Sun releases a stream of charged particles (electrons and protons) and magnetic fields 
  • called the solar wind. 
  • When this solar wind gets near Earth, our planet’s magnetic field deflects it, acting like a shield.
  • But some of these charged particles get trapped in Earth’s magnetic field and travel down to the poles, where they enter the upper atmosphere. 
  • There, solar wind particles interact with different gases, creating flashes of light in the sky. 
  • When these particles collide with oxygen, they make a green light, and when they hit nitrogen, they make blue and purple lights etc. 
  • Auroras can sometimes reach lower latitudes when the solar wind is really strong due to solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
  • These extra bursts of energy in the solar wind can cause geomagnetic storms, which are temporary disturbances in Earth’s magnetic field.
  • During these storms, auroras can be seen in mid-latitudes.
  • Recently, one of these storms happened after a big burst of energy from the Sun hit Earth.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called this storm “extreme” and warned that more bursts of energy could hit Earth soon. 

Impact of the auroras 

  • It can affect operations like GPS, radio and satellite communications, flights, power grids, and space missions.
  • Intense solar activity may disturb the body’s circadian rhythm, nervous system, heart rate, and blood pressure, even if auroras aren’t visible. 

Also Read:

19th United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF 19)