You may never have heard of a Carrington event, but at the end of it you will be both amazed and appalled by what it can mean for humans.
It refers to a type of solar activity and the most serious level of it. You can compare it to an earthquake that records eight on the Richter scale or a category five hurricane; both very intense level events that guarantee widespread damage and possibly human loss.
A Carrington event is just as serious, but can affect a much wider area. Before you can appreciate the damage, you need to understand some elements of solar activity.
The sun is a huge nuclear fusion reaction that converts a huge volume of hydrogen gas to helium and releases an incredible amount of energy as it does. The sun has been doing this for billions of years.
The reaction creates the life-giving light and radiation that has allowed the Earth to sustain life, but it also radiates supercharged plasma particles, known as the solar wind. The soil is typically protected from the harmful effects of these particles at the magnetic field created in the Earth's molten core. The field runs through the poles and deflects the particles around the ground. When there are more than usual particles, they follow the field lines and are able to reach the upper atmosphere where they get nitrogen and oxygen in the air to glow. This is the aurora that can be seen around the poles during the winter months, as the sun particles drag into the magnetic field.
The solar wind radiates in all directions, and therefore we are constantly exposed to it. It is a danger to satellites and people who orbit the earth in the international space station.
Despite the fact that the sun is trillions of years, it also has a season of varieties with varying levels of solar activity that sparks an 1
Many hours or even days later high energy particles arrive and create even more intense aurora and can be seen at lower latitudes from the poles.
_An image captured from a solar flare and coronal mass ejection in August 2012. For size, the Earth could pass through the arc created by the eruption.
Coronal mass ejection
Then there is a coronal mass ejection (CME), where the amount of ejected material varies, but if directed to the ground, it creates a geomagnetic storm that substantially changes the shape of the magnetic field and risks destroy or destroy electrical equipment exposed to the deformed protective magnetic force.
The most recorded event of this kind to reach the earth originated in a few days in September 1859. The initial sunlight was noted by the astronomer after whom the event is named. Not only did it consist of a very large solar capture, but it was also followed by the most powerful captured coronal mass ejection to be directed to the ground. There were no satellites, no power grids, electric locomotives, internal combustion engines, electrical appliances or communications equipment. There was the early network for the telegraph systems connecting Europe and North America. For most people it was a great sight to see with great aurora that could be seen over most of the globe. In some areas they thought it was morning, the sky was so bright.
The telegraph system was not so lucky. The electric charges led the wires to bend and shock the operators even though the power was off and off. Some stations could send messages using the available electricity in the air. Some lines and poles were burned.
The effect lasted for a few days and then passed. While it was widely reported, it did not affect society too much at that time.
Sunbikes continued, the sun created fluff and CME's. Some were powerful; Occasionally they were directed to Earth or passed close by. Nevertheless, subsequent industrial revolutions have added our dependence on electricity and the growing network of networks and devices that used them.
Could it happen again?
In 1989, a solar storm caused an increase in Canada's power transmission network to travel. It hit millions and took hours to recover, while many satellites in polar circuits went offline.
In 2000, a solar flare of sufficient power was able to create aurora, which was visible from South Africa. Astronomers in Sutherland suspended their usual observations because the sky was too bright.
But in 2012 our nearest brush with an electric armageddon was when a storm as strong as the Carrington event was detected and would have caused significant damage if it were not the path that followed was just a few days past ours. circuit, the ground had dodged a ball, but felt the brush past as it did.
Since the 1750s, the scientific community has watched the sun bikes and watched and measured sunlight and CME's. We are still dependent on the Earth's magnetic field, but satellites orbiting the borders have been modified to reduce the risk.
The earth is constantly hit by the solar activity, although the hope is that we do not get a direct hit from a Carrington level storm. It is unlikely, but remains a risk. A study to determine how much damage a Carrington event level storm would cause just the US to set from half a trillion dollars to over $ 2.5 trillion. It was implemented in 2013, after insurance companies and power tools breathed a massive sigh of relief.
There are plans if the great comes our way. For the man on the street, the beautiful effects will not last long, as attempts to capture the sight result in phones not functioning properly if they are not only destroyed. The power will turn off, TV and radio broadcasts will stop, emergency radio will stop working. A warning message, if one can be sent out fast enough, would require everything to be switched off and off. Should we be able to keep the call, a few days stay put and talk only to neighbors while we look at the weather in the ground, the storm must do the trick. This would be the unreasonably optimistic view. You can imagine how disturbing it actually will be.
When the worst was over, the power plants would come back online. Announcements to turn on radios and TVs are beginning to patch together the extent of the damage and how well we managed to avoid the worst. A major inconvenience but preferred by the alternative to water pumps, power transformers, home batteries, vehicles, communication towers, appliances and possibly entire office blocks wires being destroyed.
Space agencies have long been monitoring solar energy activity as a weather forecast to plan the protection and deployment of satellites and space probes. You can get weekly reports on Youtube for those who want to stay informed.
The sun provides means to sustain all life on Earth. It drives agricultural economies directly and has the greatest impact on global weather. It's usually all in balance, but it's possible that a year – maybe hundreds of years from now or just a few years away – could see us face the biggest and fast-paced risk to our current global economy.
Let's not panic, but just prepare it in case.
Enjoy the Money Show, but miss it sometimes?
Get the best bits sent to you daily right after it ends: