The solar maximum isn't done yet, as the sun reminded everyone this week by blasting out a violent X-class solar flare. Solar wind from that eruption reached Earth a few days later, smashing into our atmosphere and sparking a kaleidoscope of aurora displays.
Beyond aurora hotspots like Norway and northern Canada, the show also spilled into some lower-latitude locations like the U.K., where auroras are relatively rare. This created a second solar storm on Twitter, as a stream of giddy tweets and gorgeous images poured in to share the performance. If you weren't lucky enough to see the auroras yourself, there's still time to bask in their glory — and without spending a long, cold night outside.
So without further ado, here's a sampling of photos posted to Twitter that capture the beauty and diversity of Earth's most recent brush with auroras:
Southern lights were absolutely stunning tonight! pic.twitter.com/y20Rkkc2uv— Mike Hopkins (@AstroIllini) February 27, 2014
For a look at where all this energy came from, here's a NASA image that shows the Feb. 24 solar flare in different wavelengths of light. Charged particles from this flare caused auroras on Earth after traveling 93 million miles and striking the upper atmosphere:
That flare was certainly "significant," as NASA put it, but University of Manchester astrophysicist Tim O'Brien points out it might have drawn extra attention online because we're currently in the midst of Earth's first "Social Media Solar Maximum":
Did we miss any must-see tweets? Please let us know in the comments below.
Related aurora stories on MNN:
- Listen to the 'roar' of a high-energy solar storm
- See Michigan's eerie, icy glory in time-lapse [Video]
- After 4-year wait, photographer catches northern lights