1859, 2012, Carrington Event, CME, Coronal Mass Ejections, Solar storm, Sun
Remember it was all going to end in 2012? Remember the movie? It didn’t happen; however, we almost were hit with a worldwide disaster that scientists are just now confirming.
On July 23, 2012, the a massive explosion took place on the Sun. It sent two coronal mass ejections (CME’s) at Earth’s orbit that were 10 to 15 minutes apart. After almost two years of analysis, scientists have determined that those events were near the magnitude of two CME’s in the Fall of 1859. During the 1859 solar storm auroras were seen as far south as Hawai’i and electrified telegraph wires that sparked fires.
Like the 1859 CME’s, the event of 2012, raced out from the Sun faster than a typical solar storm reaching Earth’s orbit the next day. Fortunately, Earth didn’t pass through that region of space for another nine days.
The CME’s did hit the STEREO-A platform in advanced Earth orbit. This satellite and it’s twin, STEREO-B monitors the far side of the Sun. Data from its encounter with the major storm suggests that had the CME’s hit Earth, anything with wiring would have been in danger of an overload from the magnetic energy of the storm. Transformers would have blown and virtually everything plugged into the grid would have experienced a massive power surge.
Fortunately, people have been planning for this possibility, which is why we now have multiple satellites monitoring the Sun’s every snap, crackle, and pop. Power and telephone systems based on wire transmission would be shutdown at the onset of a major solar storm. Unfortunately, that offers minimal protection for the consumer who would lose power, then be hit with a massive surge as wires became a conduit for the energy of the solar storm.
A miss is a miss, and nothing significant happened from the solar event. Still, it was a shot across our bow, and we should keep in mind that awareness of space activity is critical. It’s not paranoia if the universe is out to get us.