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Giant Solar Storm May Hit Earth by 2020

(In a screen grab taken from a handout timelapse sequence provided by NASA / SDO, a solar spot in the centre of the Sun is captured from which the first X-class flare was emitted in four years on February 14, 2011.)

Maybe the Mayans were right, just a few years off? There’s a 1 in 8 chance the earth may be hit with a catastrophic solar storm by the year 2020, according to a new report from space physicists.

The sun changes in intensity on an 11-year cycle, and at its high intensity can whiplash charged particles in to space at 4-million miles per hour, hitting the earth’s atmosphere and creating glowing ribbons of light known as auroras. 

But the light show can wreak havoc on electrical systems, cause radio blackouts, and more. The last such storm in 1859, known as the Carrington Event, set fire to telegraph stations.


Researchers estimate a new event could cost $2 trillion in damages, paralyzing electrical grids, disrupting GPS systems and radio communications, and requiring a decade’s worth of repairs. Paging John Cusack and Nick Cage: Better get this disaster movie in production—theaters may not have the juice to play it after the fact.