It was recently discovered that mysterious cosmic storms caused by an unknown source occur once every thousand years, and they would destroy our technology if they occurred today.
Researchers have determined that these cosmic storms occur every thousand years and that if one were to occur today, satellites, Internet cables, long-distance power lines, and transformers would be destroyed. University of Queensland researchers reveal new details about an astrophysical event that is mysterious, unpredictable, and potentially devastating. Researchers from UQ’s School of Mathematics and Physics applied cutting-edge statistics to millennia-old tree data to gain more insight into radiation storms. It is unclear what causes these massive bursts of cosmic radiation, known as Miyake Events. However, evidence suggests that they occur approximately every thousand years.
It is believed that they originate from huge solar flares. However, their exact source remains obscure. Scientists want and need to know more about them. In the event one of these events occurred today, satellites, Internet cables, long-distance power lines, and transformers would be destroyed. As a result, the effect on global infrastructure would be enormous. Qingyuan Zhang, a UQ undergraduate maths student, developed software for analyzing tree ring data from every source available. Counting the rings on a tree allows you to identify its age. However, it also allows experts to observe historical cosmic events from thousands of years ago, Zhang explained. “Radioactive carbon-14 is produced when radiation strikes the atmosphere, filters through oceans, plants, and animals, and accumulates in tree rings as an annual record of radiation.
To gain insight into the scale and nature of the Miyake Events, scientists modeled the global carbon cycle over a 10,000-year period. In the past, it was believed that the Miyake Events were caused by giant solar flares. However, the scientific data and study results contradict this. It’s been demonstrated that they are not correlated with sunspot activity and that some of them can last up to two years. The researchers believe what we are seeing is more of an astrophysical storm or outburst than a single explosion. It is very disturbing that scientists do not know exactly what Miyake Events are. Not only that, but they do not know how to predict them. The chances of seeing another one within the next decade are roughly one percent, according to available data.
The research is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.