‘We will be studying this event for years’: Recent auroras may have been the strongest in 500 years, NASA says

Pink auroras in the night sky above a forest

The unprecedented auroras that recently stunned millions of people around the world were some of the most intense light shows our planet has seen in half a millennium, NASA has revealed. The dancing lights, which may have reached the equator, were activated by those from Earth most powerful geomagnetic storm in more than twenty years.

Between May 10 and 12, our planet experienced a major geomagnetic disturbance after at least five consecutive solar storms struck Earth, temporarily weakening its magnetosphere. The solar storms, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), were launched by solar flares of the giant sunspot AR3664, which was more than 15 times wider than Earth at the time – the largest dark spot to appear on the Sun in a decade. Several of these solar flares reached “X-class” status – the most powerful type of surface explosion the Sun can produce.

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