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In early September 1859, the most intense geomagnetic storm ever recorded raged in the planet’s atmosphere. … If such an event were to occur in the future, it could theoretically damage power lines and internet cables across many regions, says Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, [computer science assistant professor] at the University of California, Irvine. “There is also this risk of charged particles causing data corruption,” she adds. “Right now, the actual extent of damage, it’s very difficult to predict.” Daniel Whiteson, [physics and astronomy professor] also at the University of California, Irvine, agrees, adding that such an incident could potentially be “catastrophic” and that our understanding of the physics inside the Sun is not well-developed enough to allow us to be able to predict major solar ejections well in advance.

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