Two powerful solar flares may bring auroras to New York

These events generally start as massive explosions on the surface of the sun. These eruptions, known as solar flares, have an explosive force comparable to billions of nuclear bombs. Large streams of charged plasma released during solar flares typically travel several million miles per hour.

Researchers expect the double system solar flares to reach Earth on Aug. 18. and produce aurora displays that could be seen from New York and the north of England.

In June of 2021, a study revealed the science behind auroras. The University of Iowa research provided reliable evidence that powerful electromagnetic waves form auroras during geomagnetic storms through a phenomenon known as Alfven waves.

These waves accelerate electrons towards the Earth, which as a result, causes the particles to produce the light show.

Greg Howes, one of the leading researchers in the study and associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Iowa, explains, “measurements revealed this small population of electrons undergo ‘resonant acceleration’ by the Alfven wave’s electric field, similar to a surfer catching a wave and being continually accelerated as the surfer moves along with the wave.”

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