Our stars produce huge particles and radiation flares from time to time, which can cause serious damage to the earth. For more than 150 years, scientists studying these explosions and how they affect our planet have focused on a seemingly pinnacle example: the Carrington event in 1859. The magnetic field triggered a huge geomagnetic storm, creating a beautiful auroral display, but also caused an electrical fire on the telegraph line. At the time, our electronic infrastructure was so primitive that the storm was seen as a strange little trouble. But with another storm of comparable intensity in 1921, researchers today realized that the Carrington event was an ominous warning of future disasters. However, compared with the ancient events discovered in 2012, these two storms are pale and weak: a historic storm that occurred around 775 AD may be 10 to 100 times stronger. “It’s really very, very shocking,” said Nicolas Brehm of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. “We didn’t expect such a big thing to happen.”
Ancient giant storms are so powerful that scientists believe that it may have come from a “super flare” that occurred once in 10,000 years when the sun erupted. This event is thousands of times more powerful than ordinary solar flares. Today’s direct attacks on superflares may have devastating consequences for our modern, globally networked society. Fortunately, they are rare events-right?
Maybe not. Researchers studying the Geochemical Yearbook of Earth’s Modern History have now discovered two other pieces of evidence.
In the preprinted paper led by Brehm, it can be obtained at the Research Plaza and submitted to Nature Communications, Scientists reveal Two very strong solar events may be foundOne occurred in 7176 BC, because the nomadic hunter-gatherer society gave way to agricultural settlements, and the other occurred in 5259 BC, because the earth emerged from the last throes of the recent ice age. These two events are believed to be at least as strong as the 775 AD event, which makes these three events possibly the strongest known solar flares on record. In the past decade, scientists have been looking for more extreme events, such as the one in the eighth century. Brehm’s team was the first to find it. “This is a remarkable achievement,” said Fusa Miyake of Nagoya University in Japan, who led the study that revealed the 775 incident in 2012. Scientists now refer to this super flare as the “Miyake Incident.”
To review the past, researchers rely on chemical analysis of samples from polar ice caps and ancient trees preserved in flooded swamps or high on mountain tops. When solar particles hit our atmosphere, they produce unstable radioactive forms of various elements and accumulate in these places. In the case of carbon, solar activity can form carbon 14, which is absorbed as the tree rings grow. Because each ring corresponds to a year of growth, this gives an incredibly precise date for any peaks caused by increased solar activity: the more carbon 14 in one, the solar particles that hit our atmosphere at a given time The more. Charlotte Pearson of the Annual Ring Research Laboratory at the University of Arizona, who is a co-author of the paper, said that such a ring “allows us to reconstruct radiocarbon patterns over time.” “One of the key factors driving these fluctuations is the activity of the sun.”
The ice core allows similar measurements through the concentration of beryllium 10 and chlorine 36, albeit with slightly lower accuracy. Taken together, these methods can provide a very precise account of historical events. We have tree ring data for most of the Holocene-our current geological age, which began about 12,000 years ago. However, careful study of events such as carbon 14 spikes is very time-consuming. Viewing only one year usually requires several weeks of analysis and cross-correlation of multiple tree ring samples. “The Holocene still has 12,000 years to do, and we have completed 16% of it,” said Alexandra Bayliss, head of scientific dating in historical England and co-author of the paper. “It’s a matter of time and money.”
Brehm and his team were somewhat lucky in their research. For the event of 7176 BC, preliminary evidence of beryllium 10 spikes was found in an ice core for the first time. Researchers tracked the tree rings and saw the corresponding carbon 14 peak. Regarding the event of 5259 BC, Bellis noticed a gap in archaeological data for this period. The team studied the carbon 14 data in the tree rings of this era and found another peak. Brehm said, “We found a huge increase in both dates,” and each date was similar to the peak Miyake found in the sample that completed the AD 775 event.
After Miyake’s paper was published in 2012, scientists were initially not sure what caused these peaks. Some people even think that solar events are unlikely.However, a 2013 study led by Brian Thomas of Washburn University showed Solar flares may be the culprit“Someone made a suggestion [that the 775 spike] It may come from supernovae or even gamma-ray bursts,” said Thomas, who was not involved in the latest paper by Brem and his colleagues. “But they are too rare to cause such frequencies. It is not as suitable as the explanation of the sun. “He believes that such large and frequent spikes are more likely to be the result of increased solar activity-possibly accompanied by a more intense geomagnetic storm similar to the Carrington event. Bayliss points out, “In tree rings and ice cores The Carrington incident cannot even be detected”, which shows that it is trivial in comparison.
Even so, the exact correlation between the spikes of solar particles and the intensity of any accompanying geomagnetic storm remains unclear. “Large particle events are usually related to geomagnetic storms, but not necessarily so,” Thomas said. It is even possible that geomagnetic storms like the Carrington event will not cause carbon 14 peaks at all, which explains its lack of data on tree rings and ice cores. However, we do have a hint that the events of at least 775 were accompanied by powerful aurora, Recorded in China, Pointing to a strong geomagnetic storm, accompanied by a large influx of solar particles. “It would be safer to assume that all these events are geomagnetic storms,” Thomas said.
If this connection is correct, it means that in the past 10,000 years alone, the Earth has been hit by at least three solar superflares. (Eventually more evidence may be found in four-fifths of the available tree ring data, which has not yet analyzed the carbon 14 peak.) “Because there was only one in the past 10,000 years, this seems unrealistic,” Pearson said . “But so far, it may only be a one-off. Now that we have found two more, I’m not sure if this is surprising-but it may be worrying.”
The main concern is that if such an event occurs today, it may cause a devastating blow to the satellites and ground infrastructure in orbit. Geomagnetic Storm in March 1989 Caused a 12-hour power outage in Quebec When it overloaded the entire province’s power grid, even though it was much weaker than the Carrington incident. Today, the geomagnetic storm caused by the Miyake event may have a wider range of effects, including potentially catastrophic grid and satellite failures.
Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi of the University of California Irvine, Recently calculated Today’s Carrington event-level storm may lead to “Internet Apocalypse.” Energetic particles from such a storm could damage the submarine cables between countries, interrupting global Internet traffic for weeks or even months. Abdu Jyothi estimates that in the United States alone, such disasters may cost 7 billion U.S. dollars a day. Some more powerful things, such as the Miyake incident, may cause such a huge loss that it is almost incalculable. “For some things on the Carrington scale, we may recover because our data itself will not be deleted,” Abdu Jyothi said. “There are things that are 10 times or 100 times stronger, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone has simulated it. I suspect this will cause serious data loss. We may lose all records, banking information and important health information, and there is nowhere to go Searching.”
The possibility of our global civilization falling into a new dark age due to the Issey Miyake incident seems to be very small for the time being.But some estimates suggest that the probability of a Carrington-class event may be as high as 12% in the next ten yearsWe can prepare for this level by monitoring solar activity and shutting down satellites and power grids before the arrival of superflares and their ensuing geomagnetic storms. But something more powerful, the Miyake incident, may be more difficult to prevent. As we continue to find more evidence of extreme events in ancient tree rings and ice cores, the possibility of extreme events that may occur in the near future should not be underestimated. “We are just beginning to realize that the sun can be more energetic and active than we thought,” Thomas said. “When people study these superflares on other stars, one of the discussions is whether the sun can do this. Judging from these historical records, the sun seems to be able to enter that range. There are many reasons for concern.”