Iceland is known for the aurora borealis, the patterns of coloured lights that illuminate the night sky.
Auroras occur when some of the sun’s magnetic field lines twist together and burst, creating sunspots.
Charged particles then gush out of these spots and move on the solar wind deep into space. If earth happens to be in the way of this energy storm, the particles crash into our planet’s own magnetic field and move through our atmosphere toward the poles.
Along the way, those particles interact with molecules of oxygen, nitrogen and other elements in our atmosphere, thus creating the beautiful light show that we know as the Aurora.
Recently, however, something a little different happened, and it was captured by photographers Jingyi Zhang & Wang Zheng.
Here’s Live Science:
A gargantuan green dragon hisses in the sky over Iceland. Either “Game of Thrones” really upped its production budget for its final season, or the sun belched a barrage of charged particles into our atmosphere again.
As much as any of us would like to see a real dragon breathe flames into the winter sky, buzzkill NASA blames solar activity — as usual — for the writhing, “fire-breathing”- aurora that loomed over Iceland earlier this month.
While auroras aren’t unusual, this one appeared at an unexpected time.
“No sunspots have appeared on the Sun so far in February, making the multiple days of picturesque auroral activity this month somewhat surprising,” the editors of NASA’s astronomy picture of the day blog wrote on Feb. 18.
As you can see in the image above, the aurora looks a lot like a dragon. Photographed from a different angle, it took on the form of a phoenix:
Whatever the reason for its sudden appearance, it is truly spectacular.
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