It was in the year 2012 when our Earth had fortunately missed a fierce encounter with a strong solar magnetic storm, scientists have said.
According to the scientist, had the event came nine days earlier and our planet had not been lucky enough to miss that déjà vu with the sun, it could have wreaked havoc with the modern infrastructures and electrical grid, disabling satellites and GPS.
Lead author Daniel N Baker, who works at University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, said, “Earth would have been squarely in the line of fire if the flare had erupted about one week earlier.”
According to him, the 2012 solar flare was so hazardous that it would have hit the planet badly with destroying the electrical grid, disabling satellites and Global Positioning System, besides disturbing our electronic lives.
“If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” says Daniel Baker (The University of Colorado)
After having a rigorous analysis of the 2012 event, researchers concluded that a huge outburst on the Sun on July 23 drove a magnetic cloud through the solar wind at a high speed of o 2,000 kilometres per second.
Notably, the flare’s pace was four times the typical speed of a magnetic storm.
Explaining the process further, researchers said, the magnetic cloudburst had tore through the Earth’s orbit but the lucky Earth and the other planets were on the other side of the Sun at that time. If any planets would have been in the line of sight, they would have suffered fierce storms as the magnetic field of the outburst tangled with the planets’ own magnetic fields.
Baker said, “The data collected from the solar observatory, STEREO-A spacecraft, the 2012 solar storm was every bit as potent as the Carrington storms.”
Another researcher Janet G Luhmann, from the University of California (Berkeley), says, “Had it hit the Earth, it probably would have been like the big Carrington event of 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous.”
Researcher say solar flare is not a rare event as the 2012 event was not the first solar activity that has threatened Earth.
“Earlier in 1859, a massive solar storm, which was called the ‘Carrington Event’, caused the northern lights to appear as far south as Cuba. It also caused telegraph lines to spark, that also led setting fire to a number of buildings,” Science@NASA editor Dr Tony Phillips said.
It is the biggest solar storm ever recorded.
A solar flare is a large burst of x-ray and light energy coming from the sun that streams out into space. Scientists have been investigating about their cause for long but still unclear. However, they credit fluctuations in the magnetic field of the sun responsible for shaping and directing the flow of hot plasma and solar material that compose the star.
Solar flares affects living creatures on Earth as it increases the risk of sunburns, scrambling cell phone calls and sometimes knocking out wireless networks entirely.
The study was published NASA Science.