By Dean Murray, SWNS
A huge ‘apocalyptic’ explosion from the sun this week could knock out Earth’s internet.
A massive eruption of material from the sun, known as a coronal mass ejection or CME, was detected at 3.36am UK time on Monday 13 March.
The potentially “catastrophic” CME has been likened to the Carrington Event, the most powerful geomagnetic storm on record, which peaked on September 1-2, 1859.
That event destroyed what was then known as the “Internet,” with telegraph systems down throughout Europe and North America.
In some cases, operators were electrocuted and telegraph towers sparked.
NASA previously said a similar storm today could have “catastrophic effects on modern power grids and telecommunications networks.”
Thankfully, the new CME is on the other side of the sun, though NASA says we’ll still feel the effects.
“Even if a CME erupts from the far side of the sun, its effects will be felt on Earth,” the agency commented.
They explained that spacecraft orbiting Earth detected solar energetic particles (SEPs) from the eruption, meaning that a coronal mass ejection was energetic enough to start a cascade of collisions that would eventually reach our side of the sun.
NASA’s space weather scientists are still analyzing the event to learn more about how it achieved this impressive and far-reaching impact.
Astrophysicist Dr. C. Alex Young of suntoday.org commented at the time: “My God! This is a huge and fast event from the far side of the sun. Extremely fast and rare CME, 3000 km/s, 6.7 trillion miles/second Hour.
“As fast as the fastest CMEs like the famous Carrington event, if not faster. Could be the big event in the cycle, but we’ll have to wait.”
According to an analysis by NASA’s Lunar to Mars Space Weather Office, the CME is traveling at an unusual speed of 2,127 kilometers (1,321 miles) per second, giving it a velocity-based Type R (rare) CME classification.
The eruption likely hit NASA’s Parker Solar Probe head-on. The spacecraft is currently approaching its 15th closest approach to the sun (or perihelion), passing within 5.3 million miles (8.5 million kilometers) of the sun on March 17.
On March 13, the spacecraft emitted a green beacon tone, indicating that the spacecraft was in its nominal operating mode.
Scientists and engineers are awaiting the next data download from the spacecraft (which will occur after the close approach) to learn more about this CME event and any potential impacts.
The eruption is known as a halo CME because it appears to spread out evenly from the sun in a halo, or ring, around the sun.
NASA explained: “Even when a CME erupts from the far side of the sun, its effects are felt on Earth.
“As CMEs travel through space, they create shock waves that can accelerate particles in the CME’s path to incredible speeds, like a surfer being propelled by an oncoming wave.
“Known as solar energetic particles, or SEPs, these fast particles can make the 93 million-mile journey from the sun to Earth in about 30 minutes.
“While SEP is usually observed after an Earth-facing solar eruption, it is uncommon in eruptions on the far side of the Sun. Nonetheless, Earth-orbiting spacecraft detected SEP from the eruption beginning at midnight EST on March 12 , which means the CME is powerful enough to trigger a cascade of collisions that eventually reach our side of the sun.”