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

Olive Hawkins
March 15, 2019

The solar flare was massive.

Luckily though, it was 660BC so that's where we were anyway. They said that depending on the form it took, a repeat could cripple communications.

"If that solar storm had occurred today, it could have had severe effects on our high-tech society", says one of the researchers, geologist Raimund Muscheler from Lund University in Sweden.

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. These events send streams of particles, which include high-energy protons, toward Earth where these interact with the planet's atmosphere. Solar storms originate from the surface of the Sun, home to a roiling magnetic field in constant flux.

Now, researchers have found radioactive atoms trapped within ice in Greenland that suggest an enormous proton storm struck Earth in about 660 B.C., one that might dwarf the Carrington Event.

He added: "We must increase protection against solar storms".

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For the past 70 years, researchers have studied these solar storms by direct instrumental observations, which has led to an understanding of how they can pose a risk to the electrical grid, various communication systems, satellites and air traffic. 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. Ancient ice cores, including the samples from Greenland featured in the study, could contain spikes of beryllium-10 and chlorine-36 from SPEs. The material appears to be the radioactive remnants of a solar storm that battered the atmosphere.

Since evidence has pointed to three massive solar storms taking place in the last 3,000 years, the scientists plan to explore more ice core samples to better understand these unusual phenomenons.

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.

Although more research is needed to see how much damage such eruptions might inflict, this work suggests "these enormous events are a recurring feature of the sun - we now have three big events during the past 3,000 years", Muscheler said. This event can be compared to the strongest SPE detected at 775 CE, and it is only the third of its kind.

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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