Scientists have issued a stark warning that an upcoming solar storm could wreak havoc with our internet connection over the next few weeks.
It's a huge inconvenience when our connectivity goes down for a few hours, never mind a few weeks. Experts warn of major issues with connection and from all over the world.
This is a real possibility according to scientists studying the Sun's solar activity. Every 11 years, the Sun enters a phase called a solar maximum, where its surface starts showing dark spots.
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These spots release violent explosive energy towards Earth, caused by changes in the Sun's magnetic field. NASA predicts the next solar maximum will start in late 2025.
However, a new study led by Dr Dibyendu Nandi, a physicist from the IISER Kolkata Center of Excellence in Space Sciences in India, forecasts an early 2024 solar event. Dr Nandi told Mail Online: "[It is] not possible to predict the intensity and consequences' of solar storms this early, but we should learn more as the new year approaches”.
He added: "The most intense storms can sometimes result in catastrophic orbital decay of low Earth orbiting satellites and disrupt satellite-based services such as communications and navigational networks."
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This could mean that many of the tech tools we rely on daily might face disruptions. "Of course, they also create beautiful auroras so we can expect 2024 to be a good year for aurora hunters,"
So, if the internet goes down, what better time to appreciate the night sky? Pedicting when the most intense solar storms will occur is tricky, Nandi explained.
He also clarified why his study and NASA's findings differ, stating that individual solar cycles can last anywhere from nine to 14 years. So, an 11-year cycle is 'a mean periodicity, implying this is determined by averaging the individual periods of all observed solar cycles in the modern era.'
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