(ORDO NEWS) — Every thousand years, the Earth experiences a powerful cosmic storm, scientists from the University of Queensland (Australia) found out. Traces of these catastrophes are preserved in tree rings.
By studying ancient trees, scientists have found that their rings reflect periodic increases in radiocarbon levels. They could have been caused by a series of “sudden and colossal spikes in radiation levels.”
The exact cause of the sudden bursts of radiation that turned nitrogen in the atmosphere into carbon remains unknown.
It was believed that they were caused by geomagnetic storms, but the authors of a new study found facts that contradict this theory.
So, scientists dated the bursts and found that they occurred in 7176 BC, 5410 BC, 5259 BC, 660 BC, 774 AD. and 993 AD These dates did not coincide with the peaks of solar activity.
The study also showed that some events lasted one to two years, in contrast to short-lived solar flares.
“Most likely, we are not observing a single instantaneous explosion, but a kind of astrophysical storm,” the authors noted.
The Carrington event in 1859 is considered the largest solar storm in modern history. Then the telegraph systems around the world went out of order, and the auroras were visible even in the Caribbean Sea.
The storm released energy equivalent to 10 billion atomic bombs.
If the Carrington event happened today, it would cause global power outages and an “Internet apocalypse”, and the amount of damage would be in the trillions of dollars.
Meanwhile, the AD 774 storm was 80 times more powerful than the Carrington event. The likelihood that it could happen again in the foreseeable future caused great concern to the authors of the scientific work.
“Based on the available data, the chance of seeing another such case within the next decade is about one percent. But we don’t know how to predict this or what harm it could cause,” they said.
Scientists plan to continue the study to better understand the nature of radiation bursts. In addition to studying tree rings, they intend to analyze ice cores.
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