Can a powerful solar flare destroy the Internet: scientists gave their answer

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Can a powerful solar flare destroy the Internet: scientists gave their response

Almost any eruption on our star can cause power problems on Earth and disruption of satellites in orbit.

The sun causes the Internet on Earth to fail and people are left without this important technological achievement. But can such an event happen in real life, given that the number of powerful eruptions on the Sun will only increase? Scientists answer this question in an article for Live Science.

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When a solar flare occurs, a huge stream of electromagnetic radiation escapes into space. When this radiation reaches the Earth, it interacts with the magnetic field of our planet and there are certain consequences of this event.

Can a powerful solar flare destroy the Internet: scientists have given their answer

Can a powerful solar flare destroy the Internet: scientists have given their answer

“When charged solar particles reach the Earth, beautiful auroras appear. But on the other hand, electromagnetic radiation can disrupt the operation of satellites in orbit, which will lead to interruptions in the operation of radio communications and GPS systems on Earth. Also at this time, the upper layers of our atmosphere heat up and increase in size, so satellites in orbit have a problem – they can go off course and even collide with space debris, “says Matthew Owens from the University of Reading, UK.

According to the scientist, on Earth, the influence of a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when solar particle flows meet our magnetic field and atmosphere, can also cause problems in the operation of power grids. That is, transmission lines that carry electricity from power plants to homes and other buildings. The result is local power outages that are difficult to correct.

But could a solar flare destroy the Internet?

“Yes, this is quite possible. But for this, an extremely powerful eruption must occur on the Sun, which will cause a geomagnetic storm of simply gigantic proportions,” says Owens.

To shut down the Internet entirely, a geomagnetic storm would have to have a direct impact on the fiber optic cables that run under the oceans and connect the continents, he says. Repeaters are installed on these cables every 50 to 150 km to help boost the signal as it travels. The cables themselves cannot be affected by a geomagnetic storm, but repeaters can. If one of them fails, it could be enough to shut down the entire cable, and if many of them fail, it will lead to the shutdown of the Internet on Earth. If this happens, it will be a real disaster for humanity, which is very much dependent on the Web.

“Of course, these cables are protected from the effects of a geomagnetic storm, but a very strong impact can destroy everything,” says Owens.

Can a powerful solar flare destroy the Internet: scientists have given their answer

Can a powerful solar flare destroy the Internet: scientists have given their answer

Could there be a very strong solar flare in the near future, which will lead to the shutdown of the Internet?

According to Owens, this probability is very low, but this does not mean that this cannot happen at all. In the next 2 years, huge spots will appear on the Sun more and more often, which provoke the appearance of solar flares and powerful plasma eruptions, as well as electromagnetic radiation.

This is not unusual for our Sun. It's just that the star is increasing its activity due to the fact that around 2025 the maximum of this activity should come. And now begins a period of gradual increase in the number of flares and, accordingly, geomagnetic storms on Earth.

The most powerful flares on the Sun, which can really lead to disaster, that is, very severe outages in the operation of power grids, electronics and satellites, are class X flares. Recently, a class X1 flare was registered on the Sun and scientists believe that that even stronger outbreaks may appear in the near future.