It’s not just human instruments that make recordings. Nature does it too, but differently. For example in the rings of his trees. And some of them today seem to reveal that Earth experienced an extraordinary solar storm 14,300 years ago!
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[EN VIDÉO] Solar activity visible from tree rings What happens inside our sun can only be observed indirectly. And…
In 1859, what astronomers call the Carrington event occurred. The largest solar storm ever recorded. “Recorded,” implied by human-developed instruments. However, nature also “records”. Even if she does it differently. A paper published by an international team of researchers in the journal “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences” shows that trees in the French Alps recorded a solar storm that was even more significant than the one that caused the Carrington event .
By analyzing the rings of subfossil trees – understand that the process of petrification does not end here – that are incredibly well preserved on the banks of the Drouzet, near GapGap, researchers – including the Collège de France, the European Center for Research and the Mediterranean Institute of Biodiversity and Marine and Continental Ecology at Aix-Marseille University, which teaches in environmental geosciences, has actually updated a 14,300-year-old peak of radiocarbon – the famous carbon-14. And that deserves an explanation.
Solar storms recorded in tree rings
You should first know that when cosmic rays hit the top of our atmosphere, they constantly produce radiocarbon. A radiocarbon that, like any other carbon, is ultimately consumed by trees and other plants. But recently scientists discovered that solar flares and coronal mass ejections can cause particle explosions in our atmosphere, leading to significant production of radiocarbon. A few pictures.
After comparing their radiocarbon peak with measurements of beryllium-10 found in ice cores from Greenland – an isotope that was a priori produced in a similar way – the researchers suggested that it may have been caused by a massive solar storm could have ejected enormous amounts of high-energy particles into the Earth’s atmosphere. A bit like these nine others that researchers had already identified in the last 15,000 years. The famous Miyake events, named after the researcher from Nagoya University (Japan) who first discovered them. The two most recent events occurred in AD 774 and 993. But researchers estimate that the event that occurred 14,300 years ago must have been twice as powerful as those two. Understand that it is between 10 and 100 times more powerful than Carrington event type events!
A solar storm with a strong impact on our technological society
Fundamentally, astronomers still do not know how Miyake events occur. They don’t know what causes such extreme solar storms. Especially since none have been directly observed yet. And maybe that’s happy. The occurrence of such a solar storm could have catastrophic consequences for our modern technological society. It could wipe out our telecommunications services, our satellite systems and our power grids. The resulting outages can last up to several months!
Solar storms of rare intensity have struck humanity several times. When is the next one?
For this reason, researchers believe it is essential to further study the topic. Because there is still a lot to learn. And that a better understanding of Earth’s history and the critical events it has faced is essential, first, to accurately predict what awaits us in the future and, second, to find solutions to adapt to risks.