An intense blast of high-energy protons from the Sun pummelled the Earth in about 660 BC and left a distinct record of cosmogenic nuclei in the Greenland ice sheet. The discovery was made by an international team of scientists who say the event was one most powerful solar storms known to have struck Earth.
The team calculates that the storm was about ten times more intense than any event that has occurred in the past 70 years. “If that solar storm had occurred today, it could have had severe effects on our hi-tech society”, says Raimund Muscheler of Sweden’s University of Lund, who designed the study.
Our research suggests that the risks are currently underestimated. We need to be better prepared
The discovery could also mean that huge solar storms are more common than previously thought: “Our research suggests that the risks are currently underestimated. We need to be better prepared,” says Muscheler.
A solar storm can occur when large numbers of highly-energetic protons are ejected from the Sun in solar flares or coronal mass ejections. Under certain conditions determined by where the event occurs on the Sun and the configuration of the interplanetary magnetic field lines, these ...