Powerful geomagnetic storms headed toward Earth are caused by solar flares. These result from the phenomena known as coronal mass ejections or streams of high speed solar wind, which come from sunspots on the Sun. Strong geomagnetic storms can be very dangerous to modern society. Besides affecting human psychology, they can influence our technology, which man's life literally depends on in modern times.
The monumental eruptions of our star and the future ejection of plasma is an extraordinarily serious threat to humanity, say scientists. The most powerful registered solar storm hit Earth in 1859. It's called the "Carrington event", named after the British astronomer who first noticed and observed the colossal sunspots and ejections of the Sun from August 28 to September 2. The most intense burst was on September 1, 1859. Under normal conditions, such a flare takes 3-4 days to reach Earth. However, back then it took it just 18 hours to do so.
The "Carrington event" resulted in telegraph systems shutting down across all of Europe and North America. From nearly every point on Earth one could easily see an aurora. In some regions, the night was so bright that those living there couldn't tell the difference between night and day.
Unfortunately, even today we haven't come up with an accurate system of tracking and predicting such storms. The "Carrington event" distinctly showed modern civilization that solar storms are a serious threat to the public. Today we are a lot more dependent on our technologies and a similar collapse would be devastating to many aspects of our lives.
What we've developed so far are indices to accurately determine the magnitude of a storm and predict its after effects. The first of its kind was the Disturbance Storm Time Index (DST), and today we use its improved version, SYM-H.
However, these indices are not capable of predicting a powerful geomagnetic storm, like the one that occurred on October 29, 2003. It was so severe that it caused damage to the transformers in numerous countries in Africa and Europe. Scientists are worried that the danger of devastating geomagnetic storms is completely realistic, while at the same time they are absolutely powerless in knowing when they will occur.See more