Experts have warned that a chaotic and potentially catastrophic period of solar activity could start before the end of 2023.
Our closest star, the sun, ramps up its energy approximately every 11 years in a period called a solar maximum. During solar maximums, the sun’s energy turns into something like a pit bull on bath salts: totally unpredictable, aggressive, and potentially deadly. Our next solar maximum wasn’t supposed to be until 2025, but it looks like it might be here by the end of 2023, according to a University College London solar physicist Alex James, who spoke to LiveScience, and based on evidence shared by NASA.
The general thinking is that the sun is ramping up to flip its poles, which takes a huge amount of energy. This energy cultivates a build-up of plasma, known as a flare, while belching huge streams of radiation into the solar system, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
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This year has already seen some of the largest flares, known as X-class, than in all of 2022, and at least one of those was a direct hit on Earth. During these periods of solar activity, flares also come with geomagnetic storms, which can cause horrific disturbances down here on Earth.
While some of you might be like, “well, if this happens every 11 years, what’s the problem?” The problem is that, right now, we don’t know what this next cycle has in store for all of the satellite and power infrastructure across Earth. Historical geomagnetic storms and periods of heightened solar activity have plunged us into silence and darkness, and that could very well happen again. (RELATED: ‘Starvation, Death, Destruction’: Superstar Actor Dennis Quaid Makes Strange Warning To Society)
“Every cycle is different,” James noted (a sciencey way of saying, “we have no idea what is going to happen”). But the major threat relates to our communication structures and grid. Almost all of our major electrical equipment lies above ground, and could get burned into non-existence should a serious storm strike home.
While the odds of this happening aren’t super high, they’re also not zero. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.
All this, just in time for an election year. How convenient!