Solar Flare | When is the next solar megastorm?

Solar Flare | When is the next solar megastorm?

Solar Flare

Two solar megastorms hitting Earth were detected in a study published in August 2021. The discovery reveals that this solar flare of event is more common than people think.

A solar megastorm roughly every 10,000 years. This was the scientists’ initial conclusion regarding the possibilities of this type of event erupting on the surface of the Earth. An estimate that left us alone for a few more millennia.

This was without counting on a new study by the Swiss Institute of Technology ETH Zurich and Lund University in Sweden, which has just appeared in the journal Nature Communications. According to the researchers, they are in fact much more common. So when is the next one?

Tree rings, witnesses of solar events

A megastorm is much, much more powerful than a simple solar storm (which is already substantial). The most violent megastorm to strike the Earth dates back to the year 775 A.D. 1950-1960, in the voice of Japanese researcher Fusa Miyake himself, at the origin of his discovery in 2012.

It was by analyzing the carbon-14 level in tree rings that the scientist came to this conclusion. Indeed, an extremely high peak of carbon 14 over the period of 2012, testified to the solar event.

This is the same method used by researchers at the Swiss Institute of Technology ETH Zurich and Lund University in Sweden. And so they discovered 2 other storms of a similar magnitude to that of 775: one in 7176 BC and the other in 5259 BC In other words, it there have been more often than we thought.

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What consequences on Earth if there is a solar flare?

If this analysis of dark circles requires meticulous work, which can extend over several years. A second way to unearth this type of event, the analysis of ice caps and archaeological data, allowed researchers to indicate where / when to look for the carbon peak in tree rings.

A study recently unveiled the impact that a solar flare can have on our terrestrial infrastructure. It could cause the “Internet apocalypse”, so the whole network can fail for several weeks or several months. However, if a simple eruption of the sun can cause such damage, the consequences of a solar megastorm 10 to 100 times more powerful, would be 10 to 100 times more devastating.

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Mega storms… SOLAR ERUPTION… SOLAR STORM… unpredictable?

If researchers have discovered two new megastorms, it’s easy to assume that others will come to the fore as well. According to them, everything suggests that more solar mega storms may have occurred in history.

Conclusion? These solar events are therefore indeed more frequent than once every 10,000 years, but unfortunately we cannot predict when they will strike.

Sources: PinterPandai, European Space Agency (ESA), SpaceWeatherLive, NASA

Photo explanation: activity on the edge of the Sun on Oct. 25, 2021. This image was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 304 angstrom wavelengths.

Photo credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

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