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Scientists say destructive solar blasts narrowly missed Earth in 2012

Published on Mar 20, 2014 3:34 AM
 

(REUTERS) - Fierce solar blasts that could have badly damaged electrical grids and disabled satellites in space narrowly missed Earth in 2012, US researchers said on Wednesday.

The bursts would have wreaked havoc on the Earth's magnetic field, matching the severity of the 1859 Carrington event, the largest solar magnetic storm ever reported on the planet. That blast knocked out the telegraph system across the United States, according to University of California, Berkeley research physicist Janet Luhmann.

"Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous," Luhmann said in a statement.

A 2013 study estimated that a solar storm like the Carrington Event could take a US$2.6 trillion (S$3.3 trillion) bite out of the current global economy.

 
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