'Enormous' solar storm struck Earth more than 2,600 years ago

Solar flare

SPEs, also known as solar proton events, send tons of particles, such as high-energy protons, toward Earth, and when they hit our planet, they interact with Earth's atmosphere.

Luckily though, it was 660BC so that's where we were anyway.

Analysis of ice cores from Greenland showed a massive solar storm known as solar proton event hit Earth in 660 BC.

Senior study author Raimund Muscheler, an environmental physicist at Lund University in Sweden, said major infrastructure could be destroyed if this were to happen. With these ice samples, the team was able to find out when our planet was hit by the sun's high-energy cosmic waves and how it might have altered Earth at that time, Phys.org noted. Solar storms consist of high energy particles released from the Sun by flare up on the star's surface.

The results suggest that the Earth was hit by a strong solar storm in 591 BC, over 2,000 years ago.

According to researchers, solar proton events took place in the past, with signs being conserved in ice cores and tree rings.

Solar storms can be even more powerful than what our measurements so far have indicated - and we're still very unprepared.

For the past 70 years, researchers have studied these solar storms by direct instrumental observations, which has led to an understanding of how they can pose a risk to the electrical grid, various communication systems, satellites and air traffic. Two severe solar storms in modern times caused extensive power cuts in Quebec, Canada, in 1989 and Malmo, Sweden, in 2003.

Professor Muscheler explained that they also took part in research that used both the annual growth rings of old trees and ice cores in order to confirm that two other massive solar storms took place.

The effects of a'super solar storm' on our technological world could be devastating, burning out power stations, cutting water supplies, and leaving satellites dead in the skies. "That's why we must increase society's protection against solar storms".

"Those storms took place in 775 CE and 994 CE". He points out that even though these massive solar storms are rare, the new discovery shows that they are a naturally recurring effect of solar activity. "We just looked at the last 3,000 years, and we certainly can get good enough data for the past 12,000 years". Researchers are still a ways away from definitive estimates-but studying these prehistoric storms might be our best bet at forecasting future flare-ups.

If you want to find out more about this topic, you can search online for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and you will find the topic there.

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