Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2024 January 14
Explanation: Have you ever seen a dragon in the sky? Although real flying dragons don't exist, a huge dragon-shaped aurora developed in the sky over Iceland in 2019. The aurora was caused by a hole in the Sun's corona that expelled charged particles into a solar wind that followed a changing interplanetary magnetic field to Earth's magnetosphere. As some of those particles then struck Earth's atmosphere, they excited atoms which subsequently emitted light: aurora. This iconic display was so enthralling that the photographer's mother ran out to see it and was captured in the foreground. Our active Sun continues to show an unusually high number of prominences, filaments, sunspots, and large active regions as solar maximum approaches in 2025.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Ryan Smallcomb Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC,
NASA Science Activation
& Michigan Tech. U.