The Aurora Borealis, also known as the northern lights, are typically seen only in the North Pole region. Popular destinations like Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Alaska provide great views of this natural phenomenon. However, in a rare occurrence, the night sky in Ladakh was illuminated by the dazzling display of the northern lights on April 22nd and 23rd, 2023.
Location and Timing:
The aurora was observed above Mount Saraswati in Ladakh, at the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO) in Ladakh Hanle.
The rare event took place on the night of April 22-23.
Cause of the Aurora:
The aurora was a result of a strong geomagnetic storm caused by a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun.
The Sun launched a CME towards Earth on April 21, associated with an M1 class solar flare.
The CME had a speed of 500-600 km/s and arrived at Earth late on April 23 at 10 PM.
The aurora was captured by a 360-degree camera atop the IAO in Ladakh.
This event marks the first time that an aurora has been captured on camera in India.
The Indian Institute of Astrophysics emphasized the rarity of observing auroras at such low latitudes.
Auroras result from the interaction between plasma particles ejected by the Sun and the Earth's magnetic field.
The CME's impact on Earth's magnetic field led to the stunning display of colorful lights in the night sky.
Wageesh Mishra, an Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, mentioned that the CME struck the Earth at an incredible speed of 21,60,000 km per hour.
This event not only provides a visually captivating display but also contributes valuable data for scientific research on space weather and the Earth's magnetic field interactions with solar activity.