An Ancient Solar Storm Revealed by Greenland's Ice

15 March, 2019, 12:27 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • An Ancient Solar Storm Revealed by Greenland's Ice

Scientists just found evidence of one of the largest solar storms ever detected, which hit Earth roughly 2,600 years ago, in an unlikely place: Greenland's ice cores.

Researchers found radioactive elements buried beneath almost half a kilometre of ice in Greenland, which shows an "enormous" solar storm battered the planet in 660 BC.

A massive solar storm hit Earth 2,700 years ago. However, the stream of particles is particularly strong when a solar storm sweeps past.

Presently an enlarged amount of research portrays that solar storm can be even more robust than measurements have portrayed till now through undeviating inspection.

"What our research shows is that the observational record over the past 70 years does not give us a complete picture of what the sun can do", said Raimund Muscheler, a geologist at Lund University in Sweden. If a similar-sized solar storm hit the planet today, it would cause an estimated $2 trillion in damage. Two examples of dire solar storms in recent times that engendered substantial power cuts occurred in Quebec, Canada (1989) and Malmö, Sweden (2003).

He added: "We must increase protection against solar storms".

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Our Sun sometimes produces highly energetic particles, which are accelerated either by magnetic reconnection in solar flares or by shock waves associated with coronal mass ejections. These storms can also temporarily erode the Earth's ozone layer, allowing more ultraviolet radiation to reach vulnerable lifeforms below, reports George Dvorsky at Gizmodo.

If such an incident were to occur in the modern era, these charged particles can disrupt satellite communications, radio signals, disable power grids, as well as damaging electrical systems and devices, such as transportation and banking. How strong was it and what could happen if it occurs today?

Today that extra radiation would be potentially unsafe for astronauts on the ISS and passengers flying on planes at high altitude, besides threatening a lot of the modern technology we've come to rely on. During the research, scientists found elevated levels of beryllium-10 and chlorine-36 isotopes embedded in the ice cores, and these radioactive atoms are usually considered the byproduct of solar storms. When high energy particles slam into the stratosphere, they collide with atomic nuclei to create radioactive isotopes of elements such as carbon, beryllium and chlorine.

The scientists calculate that the storm sent at least 10bn protons per square centimetre into the atmosphere.

According to the team, the cores recorded a very powerful solar storm occurring in 600 BCE.

'Our research suggests that the risks are now underestimated.

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