Solar storm ‘tsunami’ found deep inside Earth baffles experts: ‘Must protect ourselves’

NASA Solar Observatory captures solar flares in October

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NASA describes solar storms as bursts of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy from the Sun. When the biggest solar storms smash into the Earth’s atmosphere on the Sun-facing side, the damage could be significant. But while the most powerful solar storms can be a threat, the storms are common during 11-year sun cycles where the Sun’s magnetic activity is at a maximum.

But what is so bizarre about the ancient “tsunami” storm, the researchers published in the journal Nature Communications, is that it struck during a solar minimum, when the storms are far less frequent.

Worryingly, this evidence could suggest that solar storms can hit when we least expect them.

If these storms come into contact with Earth’s geomagnetic field, radio blackouts and power outages could come about if the flares strike a satellite or transformer.

Ranked from G1 to G5 in order of intensity, even at the lower end of the scale direct solar storm contact can be problematic for communications down on Earth.

But the strongest storms could even cause power outages that could last days.

When billions of tonnes of energetic particles come whizzing towards the Earth in a solar storm, the reaction produces several specific reactions that create something called isotopes.

Traces of these distinct isotopes can get frozen in ice or trapped in sediment and can help identify when a significant solar storm came into contact with the Earth.

That is how the researchers were able to identify a solar storm from the ice core samples collected from Greenland and Antarctica.

And the evidence from the samples strongly suggests that an enormous solar storm struck Earth 9,125 years ago.

Geologist Raimund Muscheler from Lund University in Sweden, said: “This is time-consuming and expensive analytical work.

“Therefore, we were pleasantly surprised when we found such a peak, indicating a hitherto unknown giant solar storm in connection with low solar activity.”

In fact, the storm was so significant that it could even have been stronger than any other solar storm recorded from ice core samples and tree rings.

Another powerful solar storm was thought to have struck during a solar maximum between the years 775 BC and 774 BC.

According to the researchers, the world is not currently prepared for solar storms of this size.

Mr Muscheler said: “These enormous storms are currently not sufficiently included in risk assessments.

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“It is of the utmost importance to analyse what these events could mean for today’s technology and how we can protect ourselves.”

Until now, it was thought that the most powerful solar storm on record was the Carrington Event, which struck the Earth in 1859.

But back in those days, communication was done through telegraph systems so a storm of that scale today could potentially be much worse.

But the colossal event still sparked fires in multiple telegraph systems and cause communications failures around the world.

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