Scientists discovered evidence of a powerful explosion on the Sun that occurred in 660 BC. The evidence was hidden under the ice sheets of Greenland. The event was about 10 times more powerful than any storm registered since the beginning of modern instrumental observations.
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The tell-tale signs were radioactive isotopes beryllium-10 and chlorine-36 of cosmic origin. That particular type of solar emission is known as a solar proton event (SPE).
In the modern era, high-energy particles colliding with Earth can disable electronics in satellites that provide us with communication and other services, including GPS. Solar radiation may be dangerous to the health of astronauts, as well as passengers and crews of high-altitude and polar flights, shut down electrical grids, and trigger auroras.
No signs of the ancient solar flare’s impact on the people living at the time were found. According to the scientists, if there were any associated geomagnetic storms, they might have triggered auroras at lower latitudes than usual.
The researchers also identified two other major solar events that left evidence in both Greenland ice and tree rings. One of these occurred between 774 and 775 AD and was comparable in power to the event of 660 BC.