In a major relief to all living on Earth, the scientists have said that our planet has fortunately missed encounter with a fierce solar magnetic storm in the year 2012, an event that could have wreaked havoc with the electrical grid, disabling satellites and GPS had it come nine days earlier.
According to the researchers, if the massive eruptions had came nine days earlier it would have hit the planet badly with destroying the electrical grid, disabling satellites and Global Positioning System, besides disturbing our electronic lives.
They say, the ignition spot on the solar surface was aimed at Earth nine days before.
Following analysis of the 2012 event, researchers concluded that a huge outburst on the Sun on July 22 propelled a magnetic cloud through the solar wind at a peak speed of more than 2,000 kilometres per second – four times the typical speed of a magnetic storm.
Researchers say, the magnetic cloud tore through Earth’s orbit but, luckily, Earth and the other planets were on the other side of the Sun at the time.
If any planets would have been in the line of sight, then they would have suffered severe magnetic storms as the magnetic field of the outburst tangled with the planets’ own magnetic fields.
Researcher Janet G Luhmann from the University of California, Berkeley says, “Had it hit the Earth, it probably would have been like the big Carrington event of 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous.”
Researchers have carried a study to analyse the total losses of such events. The study, conducted last year, estimated that the cost of a solar storm like the Carrington Event could reach USD 2.6 trillion worldwide.
“An extreme space weather storm – a solar super-storm – is a low-probability, high-consequence event that poses severe threats to critical infrastructures of the modern society. The cost of an extreme space weather event, if it hits Earth, could reach trillions of dollars with a potential recovery time of 4-10 years. Therefore, it is paramount to the security and economic interest of the modern society to understand solar super-storms,” said Ying D Liu, from China’s State Key Laboratory of Space Weather.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.