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No, It’s Not Norway; Intense Geomagnetic Storm Causes Rare Aurora Lights Over Ladakh

No, It’s Not Norway; Intense Geomagnetic Storm Causes Rare Aurora Lights Over Ladakh


Last Updated: May 02, 2023, 12:43 IST

A magnificent display of colours and lights in the sky. (credits: Twitter/@IIABengaluru)

The auroras over the sky in Ladakh were caused by an intense geomagnetic storm that hit Earth on April 21.

The Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO) in Hanle, Ladakh, has captured a stunning display of aurora lights on its camera. These auroras, also known as Northern Lights, are a natural phenomenon that is normally seen at higher altitudes in regions such as Iceland and Norway. However, the recent capture of auroras in India was due to an intense geomagnetic storm that hit Earth on April 21. This event resulted in mesmerizing auroras in various regions around the world, including India.

The Brengaluru-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics used a 360-degree camera atop the IAO in Ladakh to capture a video of the rare aurora lights. This footage shows the magnificent display of colours and lights that occurred during the geomagnetic storm a few days back. Sharing the time-lapse video on Twitter, the institute said, “It is extremely rare to see aurora at such a low latitude.”

A coronal mass ejection was launched by the Sun towards Earth on April 21 at 11:42 PM. “This CME (speed of 500-600 km/s) was associated with an M1 class solar flare. The CME arrived at Earth late on April 23 at 10 PM,” Wageesh Mishra, Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics added.

He also mentioned that the “geoeffective CME led to an excellent night for auroral activity.” The aurora lights were visible at lower latitudes than usual, leading to rare sightings from Europe, China, and Ladakh in India. According to Mishra, the last time such a severe geomagnetic storm occurred was in 2015.

The stunning display of aurora lights captured by the Indian Astronomical Observatory left many in awe. Reacting to the mesmerising video, one user commented, “Wow, this is truly amazing! Witnessing the lights is already an once-in-a-lifetime experience, but to see them in such a low latitude is simply mind-blowing! Thanks for sharing this magnificent view of the sky with us.”

Another user also expressed amazement, saying, “Yes. It is a rare event. And it’s amazing it was visible from Ladakh.”

“Ladakh never fails to surprise and mesmerize you,” read another reply.

The rare sighting of aurora lights over Ladakh has not only left social media users amazed but has also stunned researchers.

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