By Dean Murray via SWNS
A huge “doomsday” explosion from the Sun this week could have knocked out Earth’s internet.
A massive burst of solar material, known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, was discovered on Monday, March 13 at 03:36 UK time.
The potentially “catastrophic” CME has been compared to the Carrington Event, the most intense geomagnetic storm in recorded history, which peaked from September 1 to 2, 1859.
That event kicked off the ‘internet’ of the age, with telegraph systems across Europe and North America failing.
In some cases, operators received electric shocks and telegraph pylons threw sparks.
NASA has previously said that a similar storm today could have a “catastrophic effect on modern power grids and telecommunications networks.”
Fortunately, the new CME was on the other side of the sun, although NASA said we will still feel the effects.
The agency commented: “Although the CME erupted from the opposite side of the Sun, its effects could be felt on Earth.”
They explained that spacecraft orbiting Earth detected solar energetic particles (SEPs) from the eruption, meaning the CME was powerful enough to set off a broad cascade of collisions that reached our side of the Sun.
NASA space weather scientists are still analyzing the event to learn more about how it achieved this impressive and far-reaching effect.
Astrophysicist Dr. C. Alex Young of suntoday.org commented at the time: “Holy Mackerel! This was a huge and fast event from the other side of the Sun. An extremely fast and rare CME, 3000 km/s, 6.7 mega mph.
“As fast, if not faster than the fastest CME like the famous Carrington Event. Could be the big one for the cycle, but we’ll have to wait.”
Based on an analysis by NASA’s Moon to Mars Space Weather Office, the CME was clocked as traveling at an unusually fast 2,127 kilometers (1,321 miles) per second, giving it a velocity-based classification of an R (rare) type CME.
The eruption likely hit NASA’s Parker Solar Probe head-on. The spacecraft is currently making its 15th closest approach to the Sun (or perihelion), flying within 5.3 million miles (8.5 million kilometers) of the Sun on March 17.
On March 13, the spacecraft sent a green beacon tone indicating that the spacecraft is in its nominal operating mode.
The scientists and engineers await the next data download from the spacecraft, which will take place after the close approach, to learn more about this CME event and any potential impacts.
The burst is known as a halo CME because it appears to spread out evenly from the Sun in a halo or ring around the Sun.
NASA explains: “Although the CME erupted from the opposite side of the Sun, its effects could be felt on Earth.
“When CMEs blow through space, they create a shock wave that can accelerate particles along the CME’s path to incredible speeds, much like surfers are pushed forward by an incoming ocean wave.
“Known as solar energetic particles, or SEPs, these fast particles can make the 93 million kilometer journey from the Sun to Earth in about 30 minutes.
“Although SEPs are commonly observed after Earth-facing solar flares, they are less common for flares on the far side of the Sun. Nevertheless, spacecraft orbiting Earth detected SEPs from the flare that started at midnight on March 12 EDT , meaning the CME was powerful enough to set off a broad cascade of collisions that reached our side of the Sun.”