Northern lights invade the USA as unexpected phenomenon sparks G2-class storm

Space weather forecasters predicted a minor geomagnetic storm on Nov. 7th. But owing to a rare phenomenon, it turned out to be much stronger.

As night fell across North America, auroras invaded Canada and a dozen US states from Alaska, Vermont, New York, Wyoming, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Wyoming and–believe it or not–Nebraska.

This was predicted to be a G1-class storm, but it went crazier. Indeed, to get northern lights at the latitude of Wyoming (+44 N) and Nebraska (+41 N) it takes a pretty good geomagnetic storm.

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Taken by Jack Webb on November 7, 2017 @ Wapiti, WY
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Taken by Jingpeng Liu of @ Prague, Nebraska
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Taken by Sacha Layos on November 7, 2017 @ Fairbanks, Alaska
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Taken by Jeremy Gilchrist on November 7, 2017 @ South Hero, VT
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Taken by Anna Schreyer on November 7, 2017 @ Webster, NY
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Taken by Mark Young on November 7, 2017 @ Manchester, Iowa
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Taken by Brett Morgan on November 7, 2017 @ Hayward, Wisconsin
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Taken by Shawn Malone on November 7, 2017 @ Marquette MI
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Taken by Tom Naber on November 7, 2017 @ Davis, IL

It also happened around the world, for example in Tasmania:

And Sweden:

What made this display so strong?

The solar wind stream hit Earth’s magnetic field on Nov. 7th. The leading edge of the stream contained a co-rotating interaction region (CIR), some rare transition zones between slow- and fast-moving streams of solar wind. This CIR hold an extreme density gradient and strong magnetic fields that do an extra-good job sparking auroras. The arrival of the CIR sparked a G2-class.

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