The "Northern Lights" put on a colorful show early Tuesday that was visible as far south as Virginia and Texas, and the aurora borealis could be visible again Wednesday, according to space weather forecasters.
A burst of energy from the sun created a geomagnetic storm rated G4, or "severe", Monday night into Tuesday morning. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the potent blast of magnetic plasma shot out of the sun on Sunday, travelling faster than usual, hitting Earth with the biggest solar storm since at least March, and possibly since September 2005.
The forecasters said to stay tuned for more detailed estimates of the solar storm's strength, which would determine the chances of auroras reaching southward again.
The colors of the aurora are created when the energetic solar particles excite gases in Earth's atmosphere. When the particles energize oxygen atoms, they emit green light, or red if they are especially excited. Nitrogen atoms give off blue light.