Samples of ancient ice point to unusual solar activity

(ORDO NEWS) — Until now, it was believed that solar storms are strongest during periods of high solar activity. Knowledge about this helps to save satellites, terrestrial communication systems, and even the life and health of astronauts and pilots.

A new study has shown that strong solar storms can also occur during periods of deep solar quiescence, pushing space weather beyond the limits of what we know how to predict.

A team of researchers from Lund University in Sweden analyzed ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica that are about 9,200 years old . In the samples, scientists were looking for the concentration of radioactive isotopes of beryllium-10 and chlorine-36.

It is these substances that are formed under the impact of high-energy cosmic particles reaching the Earth and are stored in ice and sediments.

What scientists have found

The high concentrations of specific isotopes found in the samples indicated that about 9,200 years ago a powerful stream of high-energy cosmic particles hit the Earth.

This happens during strong solar storms, but the problem is that by that time the Sun was in one of its calm phases and showed minimal activity. Such a strong solar activity, as the core analysis shows, simply could not be.

Scientists suggest that small-scale solar storms are similar to the traditional “swing” of solar activity, but superstorms may have their own logic of occurrence.

We will probably have to learn a lot in this area before space weather becomes an open book for Earth scientists.

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