‘Cannibal’ solar storms are trending around the world and could cause an online apocalypse


Scientists predict that solar storms that “break up” each other will occur over the next four years as the Sun shows more intense activity.

Over the past week, a series of geomagnetic storms have hit Earth as the sun begins its new solar cycle, which occurs every 11 years and will peak in 2025.

A series of coronal mass ejections, including the emission of electrically charged matter and its accompanying magnetic field into space, hit Earth last week, following a massive solar flare on Halloween.

Sometimes these projectiles can occur so frequently that the later ones travel faster than their predecessors and merge with the slower ones.

“This is the first CME that essentially makes its way through 93 million miles and is almost paving the way for other continuing education institutions to come in behind,” he detailed. space Bill Murtag, program coordinator at the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“Sometimes we use the term ‘deconstruction’ of the person at the front,” Murtag explained.

The NOAA team uses a spacecraft called the Deep Space Climate Observatory (Dscovr) located 1 million miles from Earth in the direction of the sun. When the CME hits the spacecraft, scientists know it will take 20 or 30 minutes until a storm hits the planet.

CME threatens power networks and satellites, but is generally manageable.

“Of this kind of level, we have hundreds of examples, so we have a pretty good idea of ​​what you’re going to do with the network,” Murtag said. “They see it, they feel it, we see some unevenness of the effort…but that level of shock is very manageable.”

However, with this specific type of “cannibal” CME, the results can be much more severe. “We have determined for all practical purposes that the worst-case scenario for a severe geomagnetic storm event would be this way,” Murtagg said. “It’s just that the CME wasn’t that big, but this process happened here, where we’ve had two or three different CMEs together,” he said, adding that there were “a lot of unknowns in the space weather domain.”

At worst, a solar storm could be catastrophic enough to send the entire world into an “internet apocalypse”.

In this case, power lines, cables and satellites can damage GPS operations, and experts say we have no idea how resilient the current internet infrastructure will be in the face of heavy solar activity.

Since ejected coronal masses often originate in magnetically active regions close to sunspots, more sunspots will increase the likelihood of a strong CME clump. If this estimate is accurate, it will also significantly increase the likelihood of a large-scale event occurring this decade,” explained Sangeetha Abdo Jyoti of the University of California, Irvine and VMware Research.

Huge solar storms like this have hit before, but not at a time when electricity was so vital.

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In the last century, multiple fires broke out in electrical and telegraph control rooms in different parts of the world, including the United States and the United Kingdom, due to magnetic fields generated on Earth by one of the largest solar storms ever. .

Space weather phenomena like this should be taken as a “warning[s]According to Dr. Jeffrey Love, a geophysicist with the USGS’ Geomagnetic Program.

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