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Huge Solar Storm Almost Hit The Earth In 2012

Update Date: Mar 20, 2014 09:04 AM EDT

Massive solar blasts could have badly damaged electrical grids disabling satellites in space but somehow missed Earth in 2012, according to a new research. 

The bursts if happened would have wreaked havoc on the Earth's magnetic field. The intensity would have matched the severity of the 1859 Carrington event which was the largest solar magnetic storm ever recorded on the Earth. The blast had knocked out the telegraph system across the United States, reported researchers. 

"Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous," said research physicist Janet Luhmann of University of California, Berkeley, according to The Sydney Morning Herald

The study estimated that the solar storm would have taken more than $US2.5 trillion bite out of the current global economy.

"The bursts from the sun, called coronal mass ejections, carried southward magnetic fields and would have clashed with Earth's northward field, causing a shift in electrical currents that could have caused electrical transformers to burst into flames," Luhmann said in the press release. 

The coronal mass injections can happen multiple times a day during the sun's most active 11-year cycle but these blasts were too weak compared to the 2012 and 1859 events, researchers added. 

"We have the opportunity to really look closely at one of these events in all of its glory and look at why in this instance was so extreme," Luhmann added.

The paper has been published in the journal Nature Communications

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