This dangerous solar storm scarred trees on Earth – check out the Carrington event impact


The Sun is life giver supreme, but it also has its negative side – it generates solar storms of such high intensity that they threaten the Earth, increasingly so after the dawn of the digital age. This is the reason why, astronomers have to keep a constant eye on what is going on there and to quickly find out if there has been some extra volatility that may have an impact on Earth. Notably, a powerful solar storm can knock out the power grid, cause radio blackouts and in extreme cases bring down Internet, GPS, satellites and even affect aviation. That is why US space agency NASA has made sure there is an early warning system in place. This is the current situation. Now, cast your eyes back to 1859, when a solar storm of such great magnitude struck Earth that it caused spontaneous fires to break out in telegraph equipment and operators received electric shocks. This solar storm has even been given a name – the Carrington event.

Carrington event: This solar storm is known as one of the strongest to ever hit Earth.(Photo credit: Pexels)

Much has been written about it, and now, the scientific community has found a new way to find out the extent of impact. The solar storm left an indelible mark on trees and these are providing new clues about the event that happened 165 years ago. The learnings are important simply because this solar storm caused so much damage to electric infrastructure in those days and now, when the digital age is at a high, such a storm can truly acquire much more menacing overtones.

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In this huge breakthrough, scientists have been able to analyze the impact of solar storms by studying tree rings and figuring out the radio carbon concentration there. The study revealed a massive jump in radiocarbon concentration after the Carrington solar storm.

What this will throw up is likely allow researchers to figure out the severity of solar storms and their ability to affect technology on Earth.

The study was done through a collaboration between the University of Helsinki and the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and the University of Oulu.


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