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Scientists: powerful 2012 solar storm was a "close call" for Earth
Posted: Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 7:20 AM ET (1120 GMT)
A powerful solar storm in 2012 could have wreaked havoc on communications and power systems on the Earth had not just missed the Earth, scientists said this week. An analysis of the July 23, 2012, solar storm using data from NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft showed that the storm's power likely came from a pair of coronal mass ejections separated by only 10-15 minutes. The storm missed the Earth, but only barely: scientists said had it taken place nine days earlier, the storm would have made a direct hit on the Earth. Scientists likened the storm to the "Carrington event" of 1859 that disrupted telegraph communications and caused aurorae in the northern hemisphere as far south as Hawaii. A storm of similar magnitude today could have created damages to power and communications systems in excess of a trillion dollars worldwide. The research into the solar storm was published this week in the journal Nature Communications.
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