Radioactive particles from huge solar storm found in Greenland

Jan Cross
March 15, 2019

The material appears to be the radioactive remnants of a solar storm that battered the atmosphere.

SPEs, also known as solar proton events, send tons of particles, such as high-energy protons, toward Earth, and when they hit our planet, they interact with Earth's atmosphere.

But had such an event occurred in modern times, they would have wiped out power grids, Global Positioning System technology and computer networks.

Solar storms are triggered by flares of cosmic particles streaming towards Earth, bombarding its magnetic field and interfering with various technologies.

Presently an enlarged amount of research portrays that solar storm can be even more robust than measurements have portrayed till now through undeviating inspection.

"If that solar storm had occurred today, it could have had severe effects on our high-tech society", study co-author and Lund University geology professor Raimund Muscheler said in a statement. And although these kinds of enormous solar storms remain incredibly rare, one could very likely strike our planet again, but with much more devastating effects this time around.

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He added: "We must increase protection against solar storms". This sets off reactions that raise the production rate of radionuclides - unstable atoms with excess nuclear energy, which include carbon-14, beryllium-10, and chlorine-36.

The team made this observation after studying a band of radioactive elements, unleashed by a storm that struck the planet in 660 BC, preserved in the ice almost half a kilometre beneath the surface. Spikes in beryllium and chlorine isotopes indicated that, during the seventh century BCE, the world was rocked by a storm that might be among the strongest ever recorded.

The scientists examined ice from two core samples taken from Greenland.

"There are high-energy solar energetic particle events, or solar proton events", Muscheler told Paul Rincon at BBC News. The A.D. 993-994 event was smaller than the other two ancient storms by about a factor of two to three, he added. A new study has made a decision to analyze ice cores (samples of ice which are recovered from glaciers and zones where the ice is ancient) as they aimed to learn more about the phenomenon and how it can influence the world.

According to the recent study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there is the possibility of another one striking.

The discovery means that in the worst-case scenarios, the risk planning for major space-related weather events had failed to estimate the scale of destruction these powerful solar storms can unleash.

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