A report from the journal "Space Weather" may have solved a mystery of the Vietnam War – and shed light on how solar activity can interfere with technology on Earth.
Occasionally, solar eruptions (powerful explosions of magnetic energy on the surface of the sun) and coronal mass emissions (plasma clouds released from the sun) can cause solar storms. The electromagnetic radiation they emit may interfere with communication systems. A new study examined the results of one storm in 1972.
"The extreme weather events of August 1972 had a significant impact on the US Navy, which was not widely reported," wrote the research team led by Delores Knepp, an engineering professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. "These effects, long buried in the archives of the Vietnam War, add credibility to the severity of the storm: an almost immediate, unintentional explosion of dozens of mines south of Hai Phong, North Vietnam."
These mechanical explosive Americans are designed to be detached when the ship has moved nearby. However, solar storm happens on a star more than 90 million miles – was enough to activate them. In fact, according to the study, the electromagnetic pulse from the coronal mass injection that eventually led to the seabed has reached Earth in a record of 14.6 hours (usually it lasts up to two days). The study also notes that other effects of the storm included radio breaks, visible glare in parts of Britain and Spain, and damage to solar panels for surrounding satellites.
The new navy documents say that officials suspected of solar activity were the cause of exploding offshore mines, but these records were not fully tested until the "space probe" was investigated, the Yazmodo reported. The authors also called the solar activity in 1972 "Carrington's Storm", which refers to a geomagnetic storm in 1859, which remains the strongest.
If a similar solar storm occurs in Carrington, modern technology will be erased, researchers at the Center for Space Weather Research in Boulder, Colorado, told National Geographic. The catastrophic damage would include enormous power outages and the breakdown of communications networks. In 2017, analysts at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics estimated that costs from such an event would be equal to the US GDP. Some scientists believe that such extreme solar activity may occur within the next 100 years.
Kenif told Yahoo Finance that by examining how a solar storm blew up the sea mines, scientists could better understand solar activity in the future. "What this event does is give us a sense of the range of what these great storms can look like," said Knapp.