Northern Lights May Glow Brighter Due to Increased Solar Activity

PHOTO: An M7.9 class flare.PlayNASA/SDO
WATCH Northern Lights Glow Bright Due to Solar Storms

Sky watchers may be treated to stunning views of the Northern Lights tonight thanks to an increase in solar winds.

A hole in the sun's corona could continue lighting up the sky today as solar winds erupt from the opening and head toward Earth, scientists said. The charged particles of protons and electrons then interact with Earth's magnetic field to paint the sky in dazzling colors.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center said a minor geomagnetic storm warning remains in effect today as solar wind speeds continue to reach velocities nearly as high as 500 miles per second.

"The anticipated effects from the coronal hole ... are expected to continue periodically through the first half of [today]," the warning said. It noted winds could strengthen to the threshold of classifying the geomagnetic storm as moderate.

Coronal holes can last for months, according to NOAA, which is able to spot them by their appearance as dark holes in X-ray images of the sun.

Forecasters are then able to use the development of coronal holes to forecast geomagnetic activity on Earth as they move with the sun's 27-day rotation.