The aurora borealis recently colored part of the sky of the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany or the United Kingdom, latitudes under which it is rare to observe the phenomenon of the aurora borealis, typical of Arctic countries like Sweden or Finland.
In the nights of Sunday and Monday, these episodes caused by solar storms were observed with the naked eye thanks to exceptional weather conditions, with clear skies.
The Aurora Borealis forms when the Sun emits charged particles, called solar wind, which collide with the Earth’s atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of light. These particles take between a day and a half and two days to travel the 150 million kilometers that separate the Sun from the Earth.
“It takes a lot more solar energy to make them visible in Belgium,” MeteoNews meteorologist Stéphane Nedeljkovitch told RTBF.
The last time the phenomenon was observed in Belgium dates back to 2007 and before that in 2003.
“Normally, the phenomenon occurs mainly above the polar regions (…) but, if the conditions are right, it can occur much further south,” meteorologist Ruben Weytjens told Belgian channel VRT.
In 2021, a study from the University of Iowa (USA) concluded that the brightest aurora borealis are produced by powerful electromagnetic waves during geomagnetic storms.
The phenomena, known as Alfven waves, accelerate electrons towards Earth, causing the particles to produce the familiar atmospheric light show.