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Researchers propose in a new study why an extreme solar storm in 1859 was so damaging to Earth's magnetic field. They compared the storm with other extreme storms in history, suggesting this storm is not likely unique.
The September 1859 Carrington Event ejected concentrated solar plasma towards Earth, disrupting the planet's magnetic field and leading to widespread telegraph disturbances and even sporadic fires. New research in AGU's journal Space Weather indicates storms like the Carrington Event are not as rare as scientists thought and could happen every few decades, seriously damaging modern communication and navigation systems around the globe.
Carrington - Event - Scenario - Space - Weather
"The Carrington Event was considered to be the worst-case scenario for space weather events against the modern civilization… but if it comes several times a century, we have to reconsider how to prepare against and mitigate that kind of space weather hazard," said Hisashi Hayakawa, lead author of the new study and an astrophysicist at Osaka University in Osaka, Japan and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom.
The Carrington Event is one of the most extreme solar storms observed in the last two centuries and was caused by a large coronal mass ejection, an emission of plasma from the sun's outmost atmosphere. Depending on a coronal mass ejection's strength and trajectory, it can significantly distort Earth's magnetic field, causing an intense magnetic storm, global auroras and damaging any technology that relies on electromagnetic waves.
Scientists - Events - Carrington - Event - Century
Scientists previously thought events like the Carrington Event were very rare, happening maybe once a century. They knew the Carrington Event caused low-latitude auroras and failure of telegraph equipment throughout the globe, but they had mostly studied records from the Western Hemisphere, leaving a considerable data gap in the Eastern Hemisphere.
In the new study, Hayakawa and his colleagues wanted to improve reconstructions of the Carrington event and compare this event...
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