How Solar Flares Could Wreak Havoc on Earth

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Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Solar flares occur during the highly active part of a solar cycle. Luckily, very few solar flares are aimed directly at the Earth – and even when they are pointed our way, they’re usually blocked and diverted by the Earth’s protective magnetic shield, which in ‘geek speak’ is referred to as the magnetosphere. As said, the shield usually works…


Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

But not always. (Now for the fun stuff!) Unfortunately for us, the Earth’s magnetosphere has been weakened, and thus its ability to protect our planet is not as great as it once was. What’s more, as scientists have discovered, solar flares have inflicted major damage on our planet even when the magnetosphere has been stronger.

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Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

In 1859, for example, due to a powerful solar storm, telegraph wires were shorted out in parts of the United States and Europe. In turn, this caused extensive fires in the areas affected. Also, in 1989 and 2003, parts of the US and Canada suffered blackouts due to powerful solar storms.

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