'Dragon aurora' engulfs night sky over Iceland

February 25, 2019, 2:13 p.m.
northern lights aurora borealis February 2019
Photo: Jingyi Zhang and Wang Zheng/NASA

Earlier this month, professional photographer and astronomer Jingyi Zhang captured this astonishing image of the aurora borealis lighting up the sky above. The display was so mesmerizing that Zhang's mother ran outside to experience it for herself

The photograph was featured as NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day, and no wonder.

The aurora was "caused by a hole in the Sun's corona that expelled charged particles into a solar wind that followed a changing interplanetary magnetic field to Earth's magnetosphere," NASA explains. "As some of those particles then struck Earth's atmosphere, they excited atoms which subsequently emitted light: aurora."

While Zhang was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, she has been photographing the sky for years and her work was recognized in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition last year for another image she captured of the aurora borealis over the mountains in Stokknes on the south coast of Iceland.