Rare red arcs detected across Europe

Credit: Live Science

Most of us are aware of the Aurora Borealis. Brought to us by geomagnetic solar storms, the Northern Lights put on a wonderful light show for those lucky enough to live in the far northern regions. As it happens, however, those far-flung northern latitudes aren't the only places to experience visible effects of solar storms.

In 2011, a newly opened observatory in northern Italy documented what are being called "red arcs". These findings were published on February 25 in the journal Space Weather (there's a journal for that). These red arcs, though not visible to the naked eye, omit a very specific red wavelength of light. The reason for the faintness of the red arcs is that they only exist high up in the ionosphere, and much of the area in which they occur suffers from light pollution.

Now that they've been detected, it appears that they're much more prolific than their northern cousins. The All-Sky Imaging Air-Glow Observatory (or ASIAGO, like the cheese) caught glimpses of the red arcs all across Europe, from Ireland to Belarus.

Scientists are pretty keen on putting this data to use. The ASIAGO data can now be added to similar findings across the Pacific Ocean and the United States, and scientists are hoping that these world-wide data sets will give us a better picture of exactly how long solar storms effect out atmosphere after they pass us by.

Via Livescience.com

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