Tree rings reveal evidence of mysterious “storms” of space radiation

The universe is billions of years old, but telescopes and modern space exploration are only a few centuries old. Therefore, in order to learn about events in the universe before observations with the armed eye, scientists sometimes turn to unusual sources, for example, tree rings. For many years, tree rings from all over the world have been demonstrating the incomprehensible and destructive phenomena of space weather. This is how scientists learned about strong radiation in the distant past, the disastrous effects of which were experienced by all living things not on Earth, including trees.

The researchers used tree ring data to model the global carbon cycle to question the general theory about Miyake events. Authorship: University of Queensland

“These huge bursts of space radiation, known as Miyake events, occur about once every thousand years. But what causes them remains unclear. The leading theory is that these could be huge solar flares,” explained physicist Benjamin Pope from the Australian University of Queensland.

Pope led a team of researchers who analyzed millennia of tree ring data to investigate the link between Miyake events and solar flares. The results of their work are published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

Mysterious source of danger

The study of tree rings showed that in 774 a powerful geomagnetic storm hit the Earth, which was more than 10 times stronger than the Carrington event in 1859. The last is famous for causing a flash of telegraph lines and the global aurora, almost reaching the equator. But the event of a thousand years ago was much more powerful.

“If it had happened today, we would have gone to the “stone age”. Such a powerful storm would destroy our technologies, including satellites, Internet cables, long-distance power lines and transformers. The impact on global infrastructure would be incredibly disruptive,” Pope said.

The team used computer models to analyze tree ring data relative to six known Miyake events. But the results make us doubt that huge solar flares are to blame for this. It is something more powerful than our Sun. The data show that the probability of such an event in the next decade is approximately 1%. Scientists believe that a larger and longer storm is waiting for us, which could endanger the existence of the global Earth’s energy system.

Earlier we reported on how solar activity began to grow rapidly.

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time