In the year 775 AD, the sun didn't just emit a large flare, it emitted something close to a superflare, and scientists who have been studying this mysterious and extremely dangerous phenomenon now believe that they understand what caused it, and the news is disturbing. In 775, auroras appeared in Europe after sunset that were recorded as 'the sky catching fire.' Strange phenomena were described such as serpents 'as if they were sprng out of the ground,' an apparent reference to plasma discharges taking place at ground level due to extreme amounts of electromagnetic energy being poured into the atmosphere.
If such a phenomenon were to occur today, it would be more than enough to completely destroy electrical grids around the world. In the event that people could ever organize themselves enough to start the power again, one study suggests that in the United States alone, nine out of ten people would have died before that was done.
What happened in 775 AD was clearly the most massive solar event ever witnessed and recorded. But what was involved? It is known that 'yellow dwarf' stars like the sun sometimes emit superflares that sear the life off their planets, but it was thought that our sun was more benign, and unlikely to emit superflares. It would have been far larger than 1859's Carrington Event,m which caused a massive solar explosion of unprecedented power and destructiveness.
Clues to the event are located in the rings of very old trees, and what has been found is deeply shocking. It seems that tree rings dating from 775 AD show that the trees were exposed to tremendous radiant energy, so much so that the very composition of the atmosphere was changed for decades. Such an event happening now would snuff out modern civilization.
Radiation levels of Carbon 14 have been found in the rings of trees growing in Japan during the era that indicate an event of tremendous power. Similar rings were found in Finland, confirming that the event had effects across the entire planet.
Dr Davis Eschler of Ben-Gurion University in Israel believes that the source of this energy was a comet striking the sun. What happened then was truly huge. It dwarfed the largest solar storms of the past hundred years. It was far larger than the Carrington Event.
Comets strike the sun all the time, so what made this one different? Dr. Eichler estimates that a comet the size of Hale-Bob would be needed to trigger such an explosion. Hale-Bopp didn't strike the sun, but sungrazer Comet Lovejoy may have, and with spectacular results, but on the far side of the sun. It is highly unlikely that Comet Ison will trigger anything because it's not going to strike the sun directly, but merely loop around it and disappear safely into deep space.
Were a large comet to strike the sun today, flares so dangerous that the could be fatal to life on earth would be ended--at least technologically sophisticated life. It has happened before and it will happen again. Let's hope that Ison passes without incdent, and that no other great comets come along to destroy us and leave our world a burned-out husk of its former self.
In the video, a small comet strikes the sun--with big effect!
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