Till now it was believed that humans will get at least 17 hrs or more of warning time to prepare for a destructive solar storm. Now, it looks like a solar storm will hit without any warning.
We have been reading or listening about the increase in solar activity over the last few months. NASA has reported a massive coronal mass ejection (CME) in early 2022. Space weather forecasts are expected to give us a day or two prior warning to prepare ourselves for the resultant solar storm. However, recent research suggests some massive solar storms could appear with no warning at all, New Scientist reports. And this could have tragic consequences for Earth.
The Earth is already exposed to a constant barrage of solar winds, charged particles coming from the sun. As of now, they have caused colorful displays in the form of aurorae. However, if the sun spits out a lot more material at a faster speed it can have tragic consequences for humanity on Earth. Reason is that giant solar storms pack enough power to knock out electricity grids across the planet, the Internet and even satellites. Since all human activity is centred around electricity and the Internet, the collapse of these will send humanity back to stone age and all emergency response facilities, like hospitals, will not be able to function properly or at all.
However, till now it was believed that the solar storm would take a long time to reach Earth and astronomers will know that it is coming. This will give us enough time to take evasive actions like shutting down satellites, protect the Internet and power grids and thereby save them from destruction. But now that it is being said that a solar storm can hit Earth without warning, it increases the chances of a major tragedy manifold.
What is Coronal Mass ejection?
According to NASA, the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, is structured by strong magnetic fields, often above sunspot groups. The violent release of gas bubbles and magnetic fields is called coronal mass ejection. “A large CME can contain a billion tons of matter that can be accelerated to several million miles per hour in a spectacular explosion,” says NASA.