An extreme solar storm – caused by the Sun ejecting billions of tonnes of highly-energetic matter travelling at a million miles an hour – will hit the Earth at some time in the near future, a team of engineers have warned.
But, they said, it could only be seen 30 minutes before it actually happens, the Independent reported.
Solar superstorms are estimated to occur once every 100 or 200 years, with the last one hitting the Earth in 1859.
The coming superstorm could knock out Earth’s communications satellites, cause dangerous power surges in the national grid and disrupt crucial navigation aids and aircraft avionics, said experts at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London.
In 1989 a relatively minor solar storm knocked out several key electrical transformers in the Canadian national grid, causing major power blackouts.
Similar solar storms significantly increased atmospheric radiation levels in 1956, 1972, 1989 and 2003, the experts found.
Professor Paul Cannon, who chaired the academy’s working group on solar storms, has suggested that the Government should set up a space weather board to oversee measures aimed at minimising the impact of solar storms.