Red Auroras over Virginia: Solar wind is pouring through a crack in Earth’s magnetosphere, sparking G2-class storms and bright auroras around the Arctic Circle
Taken by Darren Shank on September 7, 2015 @ Spruce Knob, West Virginia
Red auroras are not fully understood. They occur some 300 to 500 km above Earth’s surface, much higher than ordinary green auroras. Some researchers believe the red lights are linked to low energy electrons from the sun, which move too slowly to penetrate deeply into the atmosphere. When such electrons recombine with oxygen ions in the upper atmosphere, red photons are emitted. At present, space weather forecasters cannot predict when this will occur.