By Dean Murray via SWNS
A huge "doomsday" blast from the Sun this week could have knocked out Earth's internet.
A massive eruption of solar material, known as a coronal mass ejection or CME, was detected on Monday, March 13, at 3:36 a.m. UK time.
The potentially "catastrophic" CME has been compared to the Carrington Event, the most intense geomagnetic storm in recorded history, peaking from September 1 to 2, 1859.
That event knocked out the 'internet' of the time, with telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failing.
In some cases, operators received electric shocks and telegraph pylons threw sparks.
NASA previously said a similar storm today could have a "catastrophic effect on modern power grids and telecommunication networks."
Thankfully, the new CME was on the other side of the Sun, although NASA said we will still feel the effects.
The agency commented: "Even though the CME erupted from the opposite side of the Sun, its impacts were felt at Earth."
They explained spacecraft orbiting Earth detected solar energetic particles (SEPs) from the eruption, meaning the CME was powerful enough to set off a broad cascade of collisions that managed to reach our side of the Sun.
NASA’s space weather scientists are still analyzing the event to learn more about how it achieved this impressive and far-reaching effect.
Astrophysicist Dr. C. Alex Young, of the suntoday.org, commented at the time: "Holy Mackerel! This was a huge and fast event from the other side of the Sun. An extremely fast and rare CME, 3000 km/s, 6.7 Mega mph.
"As fast if not faster than the fastest CME like the famous Carrington Event. Could be the big one for the cycle but we have to wait."
Based on an analysis by NASA’s Moon to Mars Space Weather Office, the CME was clocked traveling at an unusually fast 2,127 kilometers (1,321 miles) per second, earning it a speed-based classification of an R (rare) type CME.
The eruption is likely to have hit NASA’s Parker Solar Probe head-on. The spacecraft is currently nearing its 15th closest approach to the Sun (or perihelion), flying within 5.3 million miles (8.5 million kilometers) of the Sun on March 17.
On March 13, the spacecraft sent a green beacon tone showing the spacecraft is in its nominal operational mode.
The scientists and engineers are awaiting the next data download from the spacecraft, which will occur after the close approach, to learn more about this CME event and any potential impacts.
The eruption is known as a halo CME because it appears to spread out evenly from the Sun in a halo, or ring, around the Sun.
NASA explains: "Even though the CME erupted from the opposite side of the Sun, its impacts were felt at Earth.
"As CMEs blast through space, they create a shockwave that can accelerate particles along the CME’s path to incredible speeds, much the way surfers are pushed along by an incoming ocean wave.
"Known as solar energetic particles, or SEPs, these speedy particles can make the 93-million-mile journey from the Sun to Earth in around 30 minutes.
"Though SEPs are commonly observed after Earth-facing solar eruptions, they are less common for eruptions on the far side of the Sun. Nonetheless, spacecraft orbiting Earth detected SEPs from the eruption starting at midnight on March 12 EDT, meaning the CME was powerful enough to set off a broad cascade of collisions that managed to reach our side of the Sun."