The Carrington event was the largest solar storm strike to the Earth in recorded history. But just how powerful was it? Find out.
This year has been particularly bad in terms of being affected by solar storms. Earlier, we saw 40 Starlink satellites by Elon Musk led SpaceX crash and burn due to a fast moving solar storm. Then, there have been multiple radio blackouts in Africa, Middle East, South-East Asia and Europe throughout the years due to these solar disturbances. And recently, one such solar storm even delayed the rescue operations in the USA after hurricane Ian. But, still we should feel lucky that none of these storms were as bad as the Carrington event. Read on to know what happened in 1859.
The most powerful solar storm in recorded history
The strongest solar storm ever to hit the Earth was on September 1 and 2, 1859, a time where technological advancement was still at its infancy. The greatest communication system for humans was the telegraph and the entire world relied upon it for receiving and sending information quickly. However, as the dreadful solar storm struck our planet, the entire global telegraph network failed. It was not just limited to that. The telegraph operators reported receiving electric shocks upon touching the instruments, telegraph paper spontaneously caught fire and some equipment started working without being connected to any power source! The event is now known as the Carrington Event and is the worst instance of a solar storm hitting Earth that was recorded by humans.
A solar storm with the same intensity hitting the Earth today will result in 100 times the destruction caused in 1859. This is due to humans relying on wireless communication much more in today’s times. Everything is connected via the internet, GPS and navigation systems and mobile phone networks. If these are taken out, most of the services, including the emergency services will fall apart.
While the Carrington Event is the worst solar storm to hit the Earth, there have been far worse solar storms to hit the Earth. We just lack any recorded proof of it as these happened centuries before modern civilization took root. There were much worse instances than Carrington. The Miyake event took place in around 774 CE. A solar storm, almost 12 times stronger than the Carrington event, struck the Earth. While there is no recorded information of that solar storm, we know about it after scientists found its evidence in the ice cores of the Arctic. It can also be assumed that if a solar storm of that intensity hits the Earth today, it will cause significantly more damage by causing power grid failure and damage most electronic devices on the planet.