Solar storms can wreak havoc on Earth, but if we can predict them, vital infrastructure could be saved
Just before noon on 1 September 1859, an English solar astronomer named Richard Carrington witnessed the biggest solar flare ever recorded. About 18 hours later, an intense magnetic storm hit Earth. Currents induced in telegraph wires in Europe and North America sparked fires.
If the 1859 event were to occur today, it could devastate our modern technological infrastructure. So researchers are now turning to automated image-processing and artificial intelligence to better forecast the sun's behaviour and give us time to prepare for a solar onslaught.
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