A report in the Space Weather magazine may have solved a mystery in the Vietnam War and shed light on how much solar activity can interfere with technology on Earth.
From time to time solar rays (powerful explosions of magnetic energy on the surface of the sun) and coronary mass emissions (plasma clouds released from the sun) can cause solar storms. The electromagnetic radiation they emit may interfere with communication systems. New research investigated the consequences of a certain storm in 1972.
"The extreme space weather events in early August 1972 had a significant impact on the US Navy, which has not been reported to a large extent," wrote the authors of the study team led by Delores Knipp, Professor of Technology at the University of Colorado Boulder. "These effects, which were slowly buried in the archives of the Vietnam War, add to the greatness of greatness: an almost unintentional detonation of dozens of sea mines south of Hai Phong, North Vietnam."
These magnetic magnetic detonators from the American mines were intended to be shut down when a ship was passing nearby. However, the solstice, which was on a star more than 90 million miles away, was sufficient to trigger them. In fact, the electromagnetic pulse from the coronary mass injection which ultimately resigned from the sea mine according to actual studies reached the ground in a record of 14.6 hours (usually taking up to two days). The study also notes that the effects of the storms included radio interruptions, a visible auror in parts of Britain and Spain, and damage to solar panels to route satellites.
Newly classified Navy documents reveal that officials who suspect solar activity were the cause of the ocean mines as detonated, but these registries were not fully investigated until the investigation in the Space Journal, Gizmodo reports. The authors of the study also called the solar activity of 1972 a "Carrington class storm", which refers to a geomagnetic storm in 1859 which is still the most powerful on record.
If a solar storm comparable to Carrington occurred again, modern technology would be wiped out, researchers told the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado National Geographic. The catastrophic damage would cause major power outage and break down communications networks. In 2017, analysts at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics assessed that the costs of such an event would correspond to US GDP. Some researchers believe that such extreme solar activity can occur within the next 100 years.
Knipp told Yahoo Finance that by investigating how a solar storm detonated the ocean mines, researchers could better understand solar activity in the future. "What this event does is give us a sense of range of what these big storms might look like," said Knipp.