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Updated January 8th, 2024 at 17:38 IST

'Pillars of light' falling from sky stun locals in Sweden

Stockholm residents witnessed an extraordinary event last weekend during an intense cold wave when temperatures dropped nearly 30 degrees below freezing.

Manasvi Asthana
'Pillars of light' falling from sky stun locals in Sweden.
'Pillars of light' falling from sky stun locals in Sweden. | Image:AP
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Stockholm residents witnessed an extraordinary event last weekend during an intense cold wave when temperatures dropped nearly 30 degrees below freezing. Despite the frigid conditions, the city was treated to an enchanting display of light pillars illuminating the night sky. Photographer Peter Rosen captured the breathtaking scene from downtown Stockholm.

"With the extreme cold, ice crystals filled the air," he explained.

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"This created a magnificent display of light pillars that looked almost like Northern Lights," he added.

In contrast to auroras, which result from natural interactions between solar winds and the Earth's magnetic field, light pillars are a purely terrestrial phenomenon.

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About light pillars

Light pillars manifest when artificial lights are refracted by ice crystals, commonly present in the atmosphere during cold conditions. Functioning like prisms, these crystals disperse the artificial light into vertical columns, creating the illusion of beams originating from the ground or hanging in the air.

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Solar activity is not a prerequisite for this phenomenon; it simply necessitates the presence of ice in the atmosphere and ground-level light pollution.

The vibrant red lights captured in Rosen's photographs aren't cosmic warnings but rather aircraft warning beacons atop tall structures and construction cranes in the city.

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Various hues in the display correspond to distinct artificial lighting sources: the warm orange glow originates from high-pressure sodium lamps, while the cool blue-white tones are characteristic of modern LED lamps.

This celestial imitation offered a mesmerizing moment for Stockholm residents who endured the bitter cold to witness the enchanting light pillars. This phenomenon occurs when natural elements and human influences align in a specific way.

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Published January 8th, 2024 at 17:38 IST

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