Huge solar flare lights up sky with aurora display
SPECTACULAR aurora displays seen across the northern hemisphere in recent days, including parts of Britain, have been caused by a huge solar flare with the energy of a billion hydrogen bombs, UK scientists have said.
The largest solar flare for more than 12 years – and the eighth largest since modern records began in 1996 – erupted from the sun on Wednesday.
The massive burst of radiation, one of three so called X-category flares observed over a 48-hour period, continues to produce spectacular aurora displays across northern latitudes. In the UK, the Northern Lights have been visible across a wide area.
A team from a consortium of UK universities, including the University of Sheffield and Queen’s University Belfast, observed the huge coronal mass ejections in extremely high detail using the Swedish Solar Telescope on the island of La Palma, in The Canaries.
Dr Chris Nelson, from the University of Sheffield’s School of Maths and Statistics, said: “It’s very unusual to observe the opening minutes of a flare’s life. To observe the rise phases of three X-classes over two days is just unheard of.”