Bracing the Satellite Infrastructure for a Solar Superstorm
A recurrence of the 1859 solar superstorm would be a cosmic Katrina, causing billions of dollars of damage to satellites, power grids and radio communications
Credits: Pat Rawlings/SAIC
September 3–4 Main phase of geomagnetic disturbances from second CME ends; scattered auroral sightings continue, but with diminishing intensity.
September 2 05:00 UTC Greenwich and Kew magnetic observatories detect disturbances followed immediately by geomagnetic chaos; second CME arrives at Earth within 17.5 hours, traveling at 2,380 kilometers per second with southward magnetic orientation; auroras appear as far south as Venezuela.
September 1 11:15 UTC Astronomer Richard C. Carrington, among others, sights a white-light flare on the sun; the large sunspot group has rotated to longitude 12 degrees west.
August 30 Geomagnetic disturbances and auroral sightings from first CME end.
August 28 22:55 UTC Auroral sightings are recorded as far south as the Caribbean.
August 28 22:55 UTC Main storm phase begins, with large magnetic disturbances, telegraphic disruptions and auroral sightings.
August 28 07:30 UTC Greenwich Magnetic Observatory detects a disturbance, signaling compression of the magnetosphere.
August 28 The main body of plasma takes hours or days to reach Earth, But an advance blast of energetic particles hits almost immediately. CME arrives at Earth with a glancing blow because of the solar longitude of its source; its magnetic orientation is northward.
August 26 First Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)possibly launched. The 1859 event involved two CMEs, and the second moved faster because the first had cleared its way.
August 26 Large sunspot group appears near longitude 55 degrees west on the sun.