Physics student Vincent Ledvina, accompanied by a group of friends, decided to travel from Alaska to Iceland in search of the Northern Lights. The adventure was worth it: on January 13th, the group was able to see an “explosion” of colors and lights in the sky formed by the beautiful Northern Lights.
- What is Northern Lights and where to see the phenomenon in the sky?
- How to See the Northern Lights on Google Maps
Ledvina shared on her Twitter profile some publications with photos and videos of the light show in the sky. In one, he brings a time-lapse video, which shows the changes of the phenomenon in the sky near Seljalandsfoss, in Iceland. “It was amazing to see it in person, the camera doesn’t do it justice. [à vista]”, said.
In another publication, he brought photos that show an aurora with a curious shape: as it happened, the aurora in the images seemed to follow a kind of spiral trajectory in the sky, while glowing in shades of green.
Aurorae happen when electrically charged particles from the Sun travel through Earth’s upper atmosphere, and are directed towards the polar regions through our planet’s magnetic field. In the case of these auroras, they occurred a few days after intense X-class solar flares, a category that includes the most powerful ones.
Their colors come from the interactions between their particles and the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, which end up energized. The shade of green, for example, comes when the particles collide with oxygen molecules at up to 300 km of altitude; when this process occurs from 300 km to 400 km, the lights produced are reddish.
Auroras are harmless, but they signal the occurrence of solar activity – and this, if it is too intense, can temporarily affect radio communication on our planet, the operation of satellites, electrical grids and more. Therefore, NASA and other space agencies closely monitor the behavior of the Sun.