The Carrington event solar storm took place in 1859 and had devastating effect on the telegraph system on Earth, setting off fires and even shocking the operators. A similar solar storm today can cause much greater damage and destroy our satellites.
The year 1859 was when modern civilization realized how scary and destructive the life-nurturing Sun can be. It all began after multiple Sunspots exploded at the same time, resulting in sending coronal mass ejection (CME) so powerful towards the Earth that the resultant solar storm affected telegraph systems across the planet. The telegraph operators reported receiving electric shocks upon touching the instruments, the telegraph paper spontaneously caught fire and some equipment started working without being connected. A similar event today would cause exponentially higher damage to a world which runs majorly on wireless systems and is reliant on satellites. Read on to know more.
A Carrington event level solar storm can prove to be destructive
Today, the world is a more connected place due to the advancements in wireless technology. Today, satellites have enabled us to use smartphones, televisions, computers and internet and navigation systems like GPS. They are not only recreational tools but also help in crucial functions today. GPS systems help airlines and ships to find direction, internet and mobile networks assist most commercial activities and functioning of many new-age industries. Even hospitals and other emergency services are reliant on them.
But it gets far worse. A solar storm like that can also damage power grids, taking us back to the dark ages. This means basic services like water, electricity and heat in western countries are completely shut down. Without these basic amenities, humanity will face a dark end.
And scientists agree with this assessment. Bill Murtagh, NOAA’s SWPC program coordinator who has witnessed the lethal solar storm of 2003, also known as the Halloween solar storm, admitted that a Carrington level event could be catastrophic for Earth. Speaking with Space.com, he said that such an event would wreak havoc on our planet. And the worst part is that we will not even get a long enough warning to prepare ourselves.