Northern Lights May Be Especially Bright After Sun Eruption

By Jessica Rawden 2013-01-14 18:56:41
We’ve known for a while that 2013 was going to be a big year for sun eruptions that may or may not cause power outages and other irritations on Earth. On Sunday, the sun unleashed a giant current of solar plasma. Unfortunately, that wave was aimed at the Earth. Fortunately, it may help to make the upcoming Northern Lights display that much more brilliant.

According to Space.com, the sun eruption is also known as a coronal mass ejection. What usually happens is that the sun erupts, ejecting the mass in whatever direction in quick acceleration into space. Over time, the burst cools down somewhat, leaving behind an energy wave that can cause damage to electronics, or in this case, amplify Northern Lights displays. Sunday's burst left the sun at 275 miles per second, the speed equivalent of about 990,000 mph. That sort of speed is really difficult for my head to make sense of, but it's a wild enough number that it seems impressive.

Yesterday’s sun eruption should take at least three days to reach the Earth. Luckily, the eruption was not huge enough to mess with electrical devices on our planet, but if you live in an area where the Northern Lights can be viewed, it should be quite the display. In fact, this year and the next couple are supposed to be great for Northern Lights watching, thanks to an excess of solar activity. So, if you have a trip planned, you are in luck.

Photo Credit @NASA
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