The most POWERFUL solar storm to ever hit Earth; The TRUTH behind Carrington event

The Carrington event was the largest solar storm strike to the Earth in recorded history. But just how powerful was it? Find out.

| Updated on: Oct 15 2022, 12:21 IST
NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
Solar storm
1/5 The harrowing thing is that it will not just be China that would be affected by such a devastating solar storm. (NASA)
Solar Flare
2/5 Solar Flares: Solar flares are photon flares emitted from the Sun which travel from the flare site. They are rated on the basis of their intensity with the highest being an X-rated solar flare. It can cause power and radio blackouts and are responsible for the stunning phenomenon known to us as the Northern Lights or Auroras. (NASA/SDO)
3/5 Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): CMEs are massive plasma clouds carrying photons that are ejected from the Sun. CME occurs during the solar cycle and is at peak in the middle of the cycle. (NASA)
Coronal Mass Ejection or CME
4/5 Solar Winds: Solar winds are high speed winds coming from holes in the Sun called Coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the surface of the Sun. If these solar winds prevail near the solar equator, they can cause impact on Earth, according to NASA. (Pixabay)
Solar Particles
5/5 Solar Energetic Particles: Solar energetic particles are emitted from the Sun during Coronal Mass Ejections. These are charged particles; hence they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth and if they pass the magnetic fields near Earth, they have an impact. (NASA)
Solar Storm
View all Images
The Carrington event highlights the destructive power of the worst solar storm to hit the Earth. (Pixabay)

This year has been particularly bad in terms of being affected by solar storms. Earlier, we saw 40 Starlink satellites by Elon Musk led SpaceX crash and burn due to a fast moving solar storm. Then, there have been multiple radio blackouts in Africa, Middle East, South-East Asia and Europe throughout the years due to these solar disturbances. And recently, one such solar storm even delayed the rescue operations in the USA after hurricane Ian. But, still we should feel lucky that none of these storms were as bad as the Carrington event. Read on to know what happened in 1859.

The most powerful solar storm in recorded history

The strongest solar storm ever to hit the Earth was on September 1 and 2, 1859, a time where technological advancement was still at its infancy. The greatest communication system for humans was the telegraph and the entire world relied upon it for receiving and sending information quickly. However, as the dreadful solar storm struck our planet, the entire global telegraph network failed. It was not just limited to that. The telegraph operators reported receiving electric shocks upon touching the instruments, telegraph paper spontaneously caught fire and some equipment started working without being connected to any power source! The event is now known as the Carrington Event and is the worst instance of a solar storm hitting Earth that was recorded by humans.

A solar storm with the same intensity hitting the Earth today will result in 100 times the destruction caused in 1859. This is due to humans relying on wireless communication much more in today's times. Everything is connected via the internet, GPS and navigation systems and mobile phone networks. If these are taken out, most of the services, including the emergency services will fall apart.

While the Carrington Event is the worst solar storm to hit the Earth, there have been far worse solar storms to hit the Earth. We just lack any recorded proof of it as these happened centuries before modern civilization took root. There were much worse instances than Carrington. The Miyake event took place in around 774 CE. A solar storm, almost 12 times stronger than the Carrington event, struck the Earth. While there is no recorded information of that solar storm, we know about it after scientists found its evidence in the ice cores of the Arctic. It can also be assumed that if a solar storm of that intensity hits the Earth today, it will cause significantly more damage by causing power grid failure and damage most electronic devices on the planet.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 15 Oct, 12:13 IST
keep up with tech