Scientists warn of solar 'super storms'

Gwen Vasquez
March 15, 2019

'That's why we must increase society's protection against solar storms, ' said Prof Muscheler.

A strong wave of high-energy particles should be able to destroy most of the electronic devices which are now in use, including primary navigation and communication systems.

The sun can bombard Earth with explosions of highly energetic particles known as solar proton events.

Leon Golub from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who was not involved in the research, said the findings indicate a storm far bigger than the Carrington Event and hundreds of times larger than anything recorded during the space age. The upshot is that these heavy storms are occurring more regularly than we thought they were, and can be more powerful than anything we've seen in the modern era, and that affects contingency planning.

The material contained evidence of a very powerful solar storm that occurred in 591 BC.

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A massive solar storm hit Earth 2,700 years ago.

The scientists calculate that the storm sent at least 10bn protons per square centimetre into the atmosphere. This sets off reactions that raise the production rate of radionuclides - unstable atoms with excess nuclear energy, which include carbon-14, beryllium-10, and chlorine-36. Spikes in beryllium and chlorine isotopes indicated that, during the seventh century BCE, the world was rocked by a storm that might be among the strongest ever recorded. The researchers have utilized drilled specimens of ice or ice cores to search clues about former solar storms.

Raimund Muscheler also took part in research that confirmed the existence of two other massive solar storms, using both ice cores and the annual growth rings of old trees. 774-775. The latter is the largest solar eruption known to date. However, if these ancient solar outbursts "were connected with a geomagnetic storm, I would assume that they would exceed the worst-case scenarios that are often based on Carrington-type events", he noted.

To learn more about SPEs, Lund University's Professor Raimund Muscheler and his colleagues from Sweden, France, Switzerland, Korea, the UAE, and the USA analyzed ice cores from Greenland. Researchers are still a ways away from definitive estimates-but studying these prehistoric storms might be our best bet at forecasting future flare-ups. "The challenge will be to find the smaller ones that probably still exceed anything we measured in recent decades".

If you want to find out more about this topic, you can search online for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and you will find the topic there.

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