Our Sun sends a huge amount of energy every second, whose intensity is so high that it could instantly stop all life on the planet if the work of the Earth’s magnetic field at some point gave even the most insignificant glitch. Absorbing a large number of charged particles, the magnetic shield of our blue planet creates bewitching auroras that can be observed at high latitudes of the Earth. However, in the history of our world, events have repeatedly occurred that can completely destroy the already fragile atmosphere of man’s only refuge in the Universe. In addition, destructive solar storms can occur even more often than previously thought. So what do omniscient scientists say about this?
What is the danger of the solar wind?
Despite the fact that the Sun is a very ordinary yellow star of medium luminosity, periodically it is able to surprise mankind with its rebellious disposition. The severe manifestations of cosmic weather, which we know as solar storms, compress the Earth’s magnetic shield, while releasing enough energy to permanently deprive cities and even countries of access to electricity. Blinding satellites, disrupting radio signals and disabling all electrical appliances, solar storms are still one of the most dangerous phenomena for the development of humanity in the space surrounding us. According to an article published on livescience.com, strong bursts of the electromagnetic activity of our star can occur even more often than previously thought.
So, in a new study of space weather, scientists analyzed a catalog of changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, starting in 1868. It turned out that the years that showed the strongest bursts of geomagnetic activity coincided with the strongest solar storms in the history of mankind. It was found that severe storms that could disrupt the operation of some satellites and communication systems occurred in 42 of the last 150 years, while the most extreme storms, which caused even more significant damage, occur once every 25 years.
The earliest references to the manifestations of solar storms were recorded at the end of the XIX century, when interruptions in telegraph communications began to be mentioned for the first time in official documents. As the spread of radio and aviation technology began to gain momentum, the emergence of auroras in the northern latitudes of our planet increasingly became associated with mysterious interference in the operation of electrical equipment. One of the most resonant cases of that time was a geomagnetic storm in May 1921, which caused massive interruptions in the operation of radio and telegraphs around the world. Sources claim that the Northern and Southern Lights were then observed at lower latitudes than usual, with one observatory claiming to have detected southern lights from Samoa, located just 13 degrees south of the geomagnetic equator.
Another striking case of the manifestation of the hot-tempered nature of our Sun was a powerful flash that swept over our planet in November 2003. Then a high-energy charge disrupted the operation of communication satellites and led to the breakdown of several spacecraft. Almost two decades after the last powerful solar storm, when we became more dependent than ever on satellites and electricity, the Earth once again stood on the verge of another potentially devastating event, the consequences of which we can only guess.
Be that as it may, even a theoretical prediction of the periods of the strongest manifestations of solar activity can help humanity best prepare for the next outbreak.