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Internet Apocalypse Looms with Solar Storm Threat

Solar flare solar storm internet apocalypse

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Rumors have been spreading like wildfire that an Internet Apocalypse is around the corner. The concern speaks to solar storms expected from the sun as it grows in power and activity through an average 11-year cycle. This event, known as the solar maximum, brings with it an increased number and size of sunspots and heightened solar radiation.

When Will a Solar Storm Cause an Internet Apocalypse?

The solar maximum is reached every 9 to 14 years and generally goes largely unnoticed. The increase in sunspots can, however, lead to solar eruptions and solar flares caused by said sunspots colliding and ejecting energy into space. Solar flares and eruptions release heavy particles and ultraviolet and x-ray radiation that, in increased numbers, can cause damage to orbiting satellites and electronics. Significant solar ejections that collide with the Earth’s magnetosphere in certain trajectories can even lead to power blackouts and damage to surface electronics.

Solar flare solar storm internet apocalypse

In other words, the sun’s rays can, and eventually will, interrupt our day-to-day lives by giving anything that needs power the biggest sunburn, so to speak.

One significant event of this nature, known as solar cycle 10, occurred in September 1859. A massive geomagnetic storm, dubbed the Carrington Event, was recorded that led to numerous auroras appearing throughout the world (with some so bright that they woke up sleeping people who thought the sun had risen). The particle and radiation ejection in solar cycle 10 was powerful enough to affect magnetic compasses and cause telegraph machines to go haywire, with some turning on and sending messages even when unplugged, some overheating and igniting the paper inside, and some shocking their operators.

A Carrington Event in modern times could be significantly more catastrophic. According to NASA, The National Academy of Sciences has estimated that a solar eruption of that scale could cause up to $2 trillion in damages and could damage and even knock out satellites, and disrupt internet service worldwide to such an extent that it could require a full 10 years to recover.

Solar flare solar storm internet apocalypse

The good news is that a second Carrington Event is extremely unlikely, and solar eruptions near that scale tend to happen only once every 500 years. Astronomers generally have much more accurate predictions and understanding of solar events than in the past, and though the storms are unpredictable, they can keep a much better eye on them. A solar eruption of significant magnitude would take around 30 hours to reach the Earth, during which astronomers could evaluate the severity and warnings could be issued to power grids and satellites to either turn off or shut down temporarily.

The bottom line is, that while the threat of a solar storm-induced Internet apocalypse may seem distant, its potential impact is undeniable. Preparation and investment in resilient infrastructure are crucial to mitigating risks. As we marvel at the wonders of technology, let’s not forget the immense power of nature that can disrupt our interconnected world in an instant, just like in Sam Esmail’s Leave the World Behind

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    Valerie Anne is a Type 1 diabetic, mother, tree-hugger, self-proclaimed granola who loves a good horror story through literature, video games, and movies. She also streams art over at

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