On the evening of Sunday, February 26, 2023, a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) arrived at Earth just as a high-speed solar wind stream whipped through the space environment around our planet.
The combination of these two solar events caused a moderate geomagnetic storm that produced a stunning aurora visible as far south as southern England and central Germany.
This image was captured by photographer Hanna Baguley on the Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Môn), North Wales, UK.
The conditions are expected to continue, with further auroral activity foreseen for tonight, February 27.
The CME was associated with a solar flare that occurred close to midnight (UTC) on February 25. Fortunately, most of it missed us and no serious impacts on infrastructure on Earth have been reported. But what could we do if a CME was heading straight for us?
An early warning is key. ESA’s upcoming Vigil mission will keep an eye on the ‘side’ of the Sun to spot any potentially hazardous solar activity before it rotates into view from Earth. The mission will give us advance warning of oncoming solar storms and therefore more time to protect spacecraft in orbit, infrastructure on the ground, and explorers now and in the future, unshielded by Earth’s magnetic field and vulnerable to our star’s violent outbursts.
You can track space weather events such as today’s aurora and follow the latest developments, find the latest data, and see a forecast of possible future auroral activity on ESA’s SWE Service Portal.