Fierce solar blasts that could have badly damaged electrical grids and disabled satellites in space narrowly missed Earth in 2012
The bursts would have wreaked havoc on the Earth’s magnetic field, matching the severity of the 1859 Carrington Event, the largest solar magnetic storm ever reported on the planet.
That blast knocked out the telegraph system across the US, said University of California, Berkeley, research physicist Janet Luhmann.
Had it hit, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been a lot more significant.
A 2013 study estimated that a solar storm like the Carrington Event could take a US$2.6 trillion out of the current global economy.
Massive bursts of solar wind and magnetic fields, shot into space on July 23, 2012, would have been aimed directly at Earth if they had happened nine days earlier
The bursts from the sun, called coronal mass ejections, carried southward magnetic fields and would have clashed with Earth’s northward field, causing a shift in electrical currents that could have caused electrical transformers to burst into flames. The fields also would have interfered with global positioning system satellites.
The event, detected by NASA’s STEREO A spacecraft, is the focus of a paper that was released in the journal Nature Communications last week