A massive solar storm has hit the Earth causing a stunning red aurora that could be seen from space and even in parts of the UK.
— Met Office (@metoffice) June 23, 2015
Reaching the Earth on the evening of the 22 June, the storm was captured from the International Space Station by US astronaut Scott Kelly. The extensive light show was caused by a collection of Mass Coronal Ejections (CME) from the Sun which joined together and struck the Earth simultaneously.
While solar storms are common, these higher category storms are considerably more rare, and in this instance was caused by pure chance.
According to the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Association, the storm was the result of two smaller ejections coinciding with a more recent fast-moving one.
Combined they created what's known as a G3 storm, which is categorised as 'Strong'. This is out of a rating of five categories with G1 being considered commonplace and G5 being 'Extreme'.
The resulting storm caused a powerful red aurora that could be seen in parts of North America, the UK and was even captured on video in Australia.
While a G3 looks pretty, the damage expected to electrical equipment is considered minimal. G5 storms on the other hand have the potential to knock out entire transformer networks while completely disabling GPS tracking capabilities.
The last time the UK experienced a major aurora event was back in March when a powerful G4 storm struck the Earth.
G4 storms are extremely rare, with only eight expected every 11 years. G3 storms like this one however are slightly more common with 175 expected every 11 years.