Another corona poses a threat to our world, and it has nothing to do with the virus; it deals with the Sun. The Sun has the power to ruin everything electrical in the event of a solar flare followed by a coronal mass ejection hitting the Earth.
What is a solar flare?
A solar flare occurs when the surface of the Sun releases massive amounts of radiation. It is often accompanied by a coronal mass ejection, which is when the Sun releases enormous amounts of its plasma and magnetic field. Both of these events cause major issues to radio frequency and power sources all across the globe.
The Carrington Event (1859)
In 1859, Earth felt the effects of the most powerful coronal mass ejection. It led to the failure and combustion of telegraphs. Fortunately, electrical technology was still in its infancy, so the damage wasn’t tremendous.
What effects would this have in today’s world?
If a coronal mass ejection similar to the one in 1859 were to occur, it would have devastating effects on our planet. Everything that relies on electricity would be compromised—phones, GPS, the internet, heating, cooling, sewage treatment, and more. The cost to rebuild everything is estimated to be over two trillion dollars.
How close have we come?
On July 23, 2012, we had a near miss with the most powerful solar flare in over a century. It is believed that if the solar flare were to have happened one week sooner, Earth would have been right in its line of destruction and we would still be suffering the devastating effects.
In today’s world, almost everything is made possible by electricity, so the fact that it can all be destroyed with a coronal mass ejection is insane. Thankfully, the chances of one occurring and affecting Earth is low. Eight years ago, a physicist named Pete Riley calculated the odds of a solar event occurring to be 12% in ten years. For all of our sakes, let’s hope this possibility does not become a reality.