By Hannah Osborne
To protect Earth from the potentially devastating effects of extreme space weather, scientists have proposed the construction of a giant magnetic shield around the planet to deflect disruptive particles away from it.
Solar storms are caused by eruptions on the sun’s surface. Flares, sunspots and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are often the cause of this activity, with these phenomenon all involving the sudden release of magnetic energy that is carried through space on solar winds. If the charged particles from these events hit Earth directly, they can disrupt satellite systems and power lines, leading to blackouts and communication system failures.
In September 1859, the largest solar storm ever recorded took place. A CME hit Earth’s magnetosphere, leading to the failure of telegraph systems across Europe and North America, with pylons throwing sparks. In 2008, the National Research Council estimated a similar size solar storm hitting Earth today would result in damage that would cost the U.S. around $2 trillion. Globally, this figure could reach $10 trillion.
In their study, which is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, Manasvi Lingam and Abraham Loeb, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, calculated the economic losses that could arise from future solar storms over time. Using a mathematical model and a number of assumptions relating to electricity generation and the growth of grids globally, they estimate the maximum economic damage will “grow exponentially” over the coming years until reaching a saturation point, where technological growth slows down.
“The vulnerable phase is during the relatively short-lived regime of exponential amplification that is likely to begin a few decades henceforth,” they wrote. “The ideal scenario entails the identification and implementation of an effective strategy to mitigate the risks from extreme space weather events within the next century.”
So how to protect Earth from large solar storms of the future? Lingam and Loeb say a huge magnetic shield surrounding the Earth that could deflect charged particles would be a possible solution. They say the shield would need to be placed a “certain distance” between Earth and the sun…
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This article (Giant Magnetic Space Shield Could Protect Earth from Devastating Solar Flares) was originally published on Newsweek and syndicated by The Event Chronicle. h/t Corey Goode