Space storm may cause ‘internet apocalypse’ and ‘leave people offline for years’

A huge storm in space may trigger an "internet apocalypse" within the next decade.

It would leave people offline for months or even years knocking out satellites and power lines, say scientists.

The mysterious, unpredictable and potentially devastating astrophysical event has been mapped for the first time – using tree rings.

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Forests are a great observatory for cosmic radiation – with an archive going back millennia, say scientists.

Dr Benjamin Pope, of the University of Queensland in Australia, said: "Based on available data, there’s roughly a 1% chance of seeing another one within the next decade.

"But we don’t know how to predict it or what harms it may cause. These odds are quite alarming, and lay the foundation for further research."

The Australian team used rings in the wood to provide "snapshots" of Earth’s past.

Dr Pope said: "These huge bursts of cosmic radiation, known as Miyake Events, have occurred approximately once every thousand years but what causes them is unclear.

"The leading theory is they are huge solar flares. We need to know more, because if one of these happened today, it would destroy technology including satellites, internet cables, long-distance power lines and transformers.

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"The effect on global infrastructure would be unimaginable."

Experts fear a catastrophic storm will hit humanity by the end of this century.

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences.

On the cosmic side of things, Daily Star reported that ancient astronomers searching the stars had charted the skies thousands of years ago.

The infamous map went missing 2000 years ago, and while it has since been recovered and may show the positions of stars and planets, the map proves that Hipparchus "did map the heavens centuries before other known attempts".

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