Solar Flares

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Video of solar flare captured from man's backyardThe California astrophotography enthusiast classified the activity was a medium-sized flare.USA TODAY, Storyful

Have no idea what a solar flare or geomagnetic storm is? We've got you covered.

A solar flare is burst of radiation from the sun from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots, according to NASA. Flares can last for minutes to hours and can be seen as bright spots on the sun from telescopes.

A geomagnetic storm is what happens after a solar flare if the exchange of energy from the sun reaches the space surrounding Earth through solar wind, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These storms can heat the ionosphere – where Earth's atmosphere meets space – causing beautiful auroras here on Earth. 

Hence, the northern lights, aka the aurora borealis, visible to stargazers in some spots in the U.S and far northern and southern parts of the world after a  "moderate" geomagnetic storm that hit Earth Monday.

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The colorful aurora forms when the particles flowing from the sun get caught up in the Earth's magnetic field. The particles interact with molecules of atmospheric gases to cause the famed glowing red and green colors.

What a stunning night of Aurora! This was a little over an hour ago pic.twitter.com/ltyeM9aQDP

— Chris Ratzlaff 🇨🇦🌾🗻💫 (@ratzlaff) October 12, 2021

Northern lights from our back deck last night. My first time seeing the Aurora, a bucket list event for me! Taken with my iPhone. 😍 pic.twitter.com/3T8oaffJua

— I like big mutts (@i_mutts) October 12, 2021

You know it's a wild aurora when you can take these in town on a phone. Crazy. #AuroraBorealis pic.twitter.com/vle9YjuRoL

— Kim W (@fabledub) October 12, 2021

A geomagnetic storm does not pose much threat to humans, but it can affect satellites orbiting Earth and GPS, It also can cause disruptions to some radio communications, according to NASA. 

The storm was rated a "G2" on the NOAA's five-level storm scale, with "G5" being the most serious. 

Contributing: Doyle Rice

Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: agilbert@usatoday.com.

Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/10/12/what-is-a-solar-flare-and-geomagnetic-storm/6101500001/

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