Home > Lifestyle > Features
Saturday March 22, 2014 MYT 5:30:00 PM
Saturday March 22, 2014 MYT 9:11:33 AM
by laila kearney
This image, captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows the M5.3 class solar flare that peaked on July 4, 2012, at 5:55 AM EDT. REUTERS/NASA/SDO/AIA/Helioviewer.
Fierce solar blasts that could have badly damaged electrical grids and disabled satellites in space narrowly missed Earth in 2012.
The bursts would have wreaked havoc on the Earth’s magnetic field, matching the severity of the 1859 Carrington event, the largest solar magnetic storm ever reported on the planet.
The 1859 blast knocked out the telegraph system across the United States, according to University of California, Berkeley research physicist Janet Luhmann.
“Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous,” Luhmann said in a statement.
A 2013 study estimated that a solar storm like the Carrington Event could take a US$2.6tril (RM8.6tril) bite out of the current global economy.
Massive bursts of solar wind and magnetic fields, shot into space on July 23, 2012, would have been aimed directly at Earth if they had happened nine days earlier, Luhmann said.
The bursts from the sun, called coronal mass ejections, carried southward magnetic fields and would have clashed with Earth’s northward field, causing a shift in electrical currents that could have caused electrical transformers to burst into flames, Luhmann said. The fields also would have interfered with global positioning system satellites.
The event, detected by Nasa's STEREO A spacecraft, is the focus of a paper that was released in the journal Nature Communications on March 18 by Luhmann, China’s State Key Laboratory of Space Weather professor Ying Liu and their colleagues.
Although coronal mass ejections can happen several times a day during the sun’s most active 11-year cycle, the blasts are usually small or weak compared to the 2012 and 1859 events, she said.
Luhmann said that by studying images captured by the sun-observing spacecraft, scientists can better understand coronal mass ejections and predict solar magnetic storms in the future.
“We have the opportunity to really look closely at one of these events in all of its glory and look at why in this instance was so extreme,” Luhmann said. – Reuters
Tags / Keywords:
Lifestyle, Science, Earth, Sun, solar, blast, magnetic storm, 2012
Double solar storms may cause electronic disruptions
California blue whales bounce back from extinction
The new titan: The world meets a new and huge dinosaur
Farming a reef
Antarctica’s slow melt: The answer is in the air
Gucci's anti-trend: Dressing for real life
P. Ramlee: A quick history lesson
Liam Neeson’s character to save family again in ‘Taken 3’
Copying coral in interior design
Bonia travels this season
Metallica’s Trujillo and Ulrich choose jazz over rock for film fest
Botched customs upgrade cuts off Congo's second city
Contest for naming The Malaysia Year of Festivals 2015 mascot, the proboscis monkey
China tells foreign countries not to meddle in Hong Kong
Copyright © 1995-2014 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)