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Scientists say May’s northern lights were the space spectacle of a lifetime

Scientists say May’s northern lights were the space spectacle of a lifetime

The geomagnetic storm on May 10 and 11 generated visible aurorae in the United States, Jamaica and South Africa. (AP/Robert F. Bukaty)

Two weeks ago, an epic showing of twilight I danced in the sky a night from United State until Jamaica And South Africa. Now, space scientists say this Solar storm It has been most impressive in recent decades and, in some cases, even in recent centuries.

On the 10th and 11th maybea Geomagnetic storm “Extreme” – reaching the most severe level intensity– Bombed Earth’s atmosphere Unleash twilight Of great beauty. New analyzes show that Magnetic activity Follower Storm It was the strongest since 1989, according to Space Weather Prediction Center Follower National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. to publish twilight It was also one of the most vibrant events of the past 500 years, according to a pot.

“For most of our lives we didn’t see twilight “At that level,” said Mike Pettoy, the company’s chief operating officer. Space Weather Prediction Center Follower Noah. “At the same time, it’s also impressive to see that it doesn’t exist Effects more important.”

the Geomagnetic storms They are generated when a wave of grains And plasma coming from sun – Often due to strong explosions on its surface – the protective magnetic bubble is temporarily disturbed Land. Sometimes they can damage networks electricity And the Satellites Which revolves around Land. the Noah Classified Geomagnetic storms On a scale from G1 to G5, where G5 represents intensity Storm May 10 – the most dangerous.

Scientists confirm that the solar storm in May was the strongest in decades, even surpassing the events of past centuries. (Photo: @TheMaxiArte)

The May 2024 event joins a short list of Storms Very extreme.

before Storm Last May G5 storm That was in October 2003, which caused A Power outages in CanadaPower outages in Sweden and damage to transformers in South Africa. As I caused twilight in Florida, Central Europe, Australia And some Mediterranean countries.

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While the Storm The year 2003 caused a significant increase Blackouts Worldwide, Bitoy said the technological fallout was not serious last May. In some areas there were Voltage violationsalthough Noah Still trying to figure out if it was all due Geomagnetic storm.

The planes had to change course due to signal interference. radioAnd some systems Global Positioning System Of the farms stopped working. In addition, he said, some of the satellites are from private companies – e.g Amazon And com. starlink– It entered safe mode and even drifted out of orbit as it was swept away by a flood of particles Solar.

NASA analyzes show that this storm led to magnetic activity not seen since 1989. (X/@pacoelizondo_)

although Effects It was lower than it was in 2003, and the data indicate that Storm May 2024 was even more so strong. Tools that measure a ring Currents around Landknown as Magnetometers, showed greater disturbances in ground currents. the Global geomagnetic activity middle Storm It was also the oldest.

According to Petoy, the Storm May was similar to March 1989, which was the highest Geomagnetic storm Of that decade and one of the greatest of the century. It may cause a Power outages in Canada The affected transformers are in the northern United States. They saw each other twilight Even in Texas and Florida.

But the Storm Mayo is not competing Geomagnetic storms Stronger than hundreds of years ago. It is recorded about three times less than the famous event 1859 Carringtonwhich silenced telegraph systems around the world and led twilight until Mexico.

as Storm May was well planned and viewers around the world were armed with smartphones and digital cameras twilight They are perhaps the most photographed in history.

The storm is rated as G5, the highest level of intensity on NOAA’s scale. (Owen Humphreys/AP)

“Almost every part of the world had some report of it, at least one night,” Bitwe said. According to a press release issued by a potIt was perhaps one of the greatest sights since the 16th century.

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Chris Wiklund, computer enthusiast twilightHe made a manual map and verified its observations twilight Based on social media posts sWhich took between 48 to 72 hours. It found about 2,600 reports around the world, including Australia, Central America, south americasouth Africa And Central Europe.

“The purpose is that I wanted to map how far the oval can be seen from dawn “He’s heading south,” said Wiklund, an intern at the institute. Offutt Air Force Base He hopes to become an official space weather forecaster. “It’s different for each of them Geomagnetic storm. It’s never the same.”

Another site where users can provide their feedback twilightnamed AurorasaurNearly 4,000 other reports were recorded. The project AurorasaurSupported by a pot And the National Science FoundationThe reports are used for scientific research.

Despite its size, the technological impacts were less than in previous storms, according to Mike Pettoy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). (Mathias Pena/DPA/AFP)

Wicklund, who has already seen Northern lights 30 times, I was in Mississippi When predictions of strong geomagnetic activity seemed reasonable. Not wanting to miss the show, he went back there Minnesotahis home state, just to see that twilight It was visible from Mississippi. He says it hurts him to stay there Mississippibut this light show Minnesota It was one of the best he had ever seen.

“The columns will appear out of nowhere,” says Wiklund, who just finished his bachelor’s degree. meteorology In the St. Cloud State University. “I saw colors moving very quickly, and sometimes faces. “I have a picture of a phoenix.” He says he hopes his map will be useful the next time disaster strikes. G5 stormshows sky watchers just how far dawn in Storms former.

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People can see how far south they expect to see dawn Through the form Warm welcome Follower Noah, which provides short-term forecasts of the intensity of the aurora oval in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. If the form had included some reports from… dawn Real-time, line-of-sight dawn It would spread south. He added that they are trying to incorporate more real observations into the model.

The region of the Sun that produced the May storm is still active and sending large flares toward Mars and space. (Archives)

Project scientists Aurorasaur They claim that observations and photographs can improve our understanding of different types of organisms twilight Why and where they can appear. Ian Cohen, space physicist Johns Hopkins University Applied Science Laboratorystates that there are several types of twilight That scientists do not yet understand, e.g Pulsating twilight waves twilight necklaceWhich appear as bubbles in the sky.

although Storm Zone finished sun That produced it is still active because it rotates away from Land. The region continued to release large flares and eruptions, but in the direction of… Mars And space. the a pot Plan to publish data on activity, and Storm It will be studied for a long time by scientists.

“I will think about this weekend for the rest of my career,” said Jimmy Favors, the center’s director. Space weather program Follower a pot.

(c) The Washington Post