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Could a solar flare cause mayhem for electronics here on Earth?


Definitely. When a coronal mass ejection (CME) from a solar flare reaches Earth, the fluctuating magnetic fields induce electrical currents in any long conductor. In oil and gas pipelines this can cause sparks that trigger fires and explosions at terminals and in power lines the surge can overload transformers. In 1989 a powerful flare knocked out the electricity grid for 6 million people in Québec, Canada. The largest-ever recorded flare in 1859 gave telegraph operators electric shocks from the telegraph wires. If a similar flare occurred today – with our much more sensitive equipment – the damage could easily run to billions.

Answered by Luis Villazon