The evidence they dug up is in the form of radioactive particles previously hidden under the ice sheets of Greenland, and experts are saying the ancient event could be one of the biggest solar storms to have ever hit Earth. Such blasts of plasma and electromagnetic radiation from the Sun have the potential to seriously impact life on Earth, so it's important for us to understand them as much as we can. What the material proved was that in 591 BC a massive solar storm hit the Earth.
"That's why we must increase society's protection again solar storms". This sets off reactions that raise the production rate of radionuclides - unstable atoms with excess nuclear energy, which include carbon-14, beryllium-10, and chlorine-36. Occasionally, bursts of charged particles like protons are belched into space-and if pitched Earthward, the powerful surge of energetic particles could trigger massive power outages, discombobulate navigation and communication systems, incapacitate commercial aircraft, and even compromise operations aboard the International Space Station.
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The event was at least 10 times more intense than any storm in the past 70 years-since modern records began. The latter was, to date, the biggest solar event on record. When the solar storm causes a disturbance in our planet's magnetosphere, it's called a geomagnetic storm which can wreak devastation on power grids across the planet. This event can be compared to the strongest SPE detected at 775 CE, and it is only the third of its kind.
Now, new research shows that we've underestimated the hazards posed by solar storms - the authors report that we've underestimated just how powerful they can become. The researchers confirmed that Earth was hit by two extreme solar storms more than 1,000 years ago. In the meantime, we'd be wise to develop systems and equipment that aren't going to come crashing down if the event of 660 BCE is repeated.
The discovery means that in the worst-case scenarios, the risk planning for major space-related weather events had failed to estimate the scale of destruction these powerful solar storms can unleash.
"We need to search systematically for these events in the environmental archives to get a good idea about the statistics - that is, the risks - for such events and also smaller events", Muscheler added.