(ORDO NEWS) — Previously, solar flares were thought to be responsible for historical fluctuations in radiation levels on Earth.
But a new study suggests that these bursts may not be caused by solar flares, as was once thought, but by something much more powerful – still unknown to us – and even possibly dangerous.
The study looked at tree rings for carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of carbon whose increased presence leads to spikes in Earth’s radiation levels.
Radiation bursts, in turn, are caused by mysterious astrophysical phenomena, called “Miyake phenomena”, named after the Japanese scientist who discovered them.
There is a kind of extreme astrophysical phenomenon that we don’t understand that could actually pose a threat to us, said Benjamin Pope, study co-author and astrophysicist at the University of Queensland, in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
According to Pope, six Miyake events have been known in the last 10,000 years, the last of which occurred in 993 AD.
Until now, it was thought that they were caused by strong solar storms, usually occurring during the 11-year peak of sunspot activity in the solar cycle.
But after analyzing the data, Pope and his team found that these bursts of radiation occurred throughout the entire solar cycle, not just during its 11-year peak, casting doubt on the dominant theory.
Mysterious radiation bursts
Even more surprising is how long some of these surges lasted. At least two, maybe three of these events… lasted over a year, which is surprising because this shouldn’t be the case with solar flares.
The last powerful solar burst to hit our planet occurred in 1859. Known as the Carrington Event, it severely damaged the telecommunications infrastructure of the time.
In an age where we are heavily dependent on electronics and the Internet, an event like Carrington could be far more devastating today.
What could be causing these outbreaks
Pope thinks a flurry of solar flares that occur in quick succession could be the cause, though that’s just speculation.
Not just one solar flare, but repeated solar flares that happen again and again, one after the other, ” he explained.
As for the chances of surviving such an event anytime soon, Pope thinks they’re slim – but maybe not that slim.
Based on the available data collected by scientists, there is about a one percent chance that over the next decade we may witness a powerful outbreak of incredible power that will definitely affect humanity.
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