Solar Super-Storm Hit Earth 2,610 Years Ago | Geoscience, Space Exploration

Katie Ramirez
March 15, 2019

The new study means that a third known case of a massive solar storm dating back in time has been discovered via indirect observations in nature's own archive.

Luckily though, it was 660BC so that's where we were anyway.

Scientists have discovered evidence of one of the biggest solar storms ever recorded, when high-energy particles unleashed from the sun bombarded Earth just over 2,600 years ago. They said that depending on the form it took, a repeat could cripple communications.

In a study published in PNAS, Raimund Muscheler from Sweden's Lund University and colleagues found evidence of another huge solar storm on the same scale as the one that hit in A.D.

Although our planet's magnetic field keeps us blissfully unaware of it, the Earth is constantly being pelted with cosmic particles.

A solar storm occurs when explosions on the sun's surface blast high-energy particles into the cosmos.

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The team made this observation after studying a band of radioactive elements, unleashed by a storm that struck the planet in 660 BC, preserved in the ice almost half a kilometre beneath the surface. But this event almost 2,700 years ago appears to have been more than 10 times stronger than any storm we've detected in the last 70 years. With their research, the team aims to help people prepare for future giant solar storms, which could shut down global communication systems, air traffic systems, and satellites. When the solar storm causes a disturbance in our planet's magnetosphere, it's called a geomagnetic storm which can wreak devastation on power grids across the planet.

'That's why we must increase society's protection against solar storms, ' said Prof Muscheler. The researchers have utilized drilled specimens of ice or ice cores to search clues about former solar storms. In modern times, large solar storms led to widespread power outages in Quebec in 1989 and Sweden in 2003 - but those storm, scientists say, pale in comparison to the one that occurred more than 2,600 years ago. 775 Using two ice cores from Greenland, the team found the "enormous" storm took place around 2,610 B.C.

Researchers have also previously found similar events dated to 774-775 AD and 993-994 AD.

The result thus showcases that, although rare, massive solar storms are a naturally recurring part of solar activity.

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. "Assets in space, including satellites and humans, need to be protected, and even systems on the ground are at risk from large solar events".

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