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Une tempête solaire suffisamment puissante pourrait provoquer un black-out de notre réseau internet. © SN, Adobe Stock

How a powerful solar storm could break the Internet for weeks

No connection for 5 minutes and you are lost? So imagine what your life would be like if the global internet was cut off for several weeks! According to the researchers, this is the danger we face in the event of a major solar storm. A risk we must prepare for.

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[EN VIDÉO] Space weather may be worse in the north
Every second, our planet is bombarded by charged particles from the solar wind. Earth’s magnetic field protects us from it. But while researchers believed that the energy we receive from our sun in this way is evenly distributed between north and south, here they found an asymmetry. Electromagnetic energy appears to be preferentially directed towards the northern hemisphere. © ESA, Planetary Visions

On our Earth, a solar wind composed of charged particles is constantly blowing. Most of the time, fortunately these are blocked by magnetic field that surrounds our planet. But sometimes the solar wind becomes Storm. And he can slide into Atmosphere It passes through the poles, threatening our navigation systems and our power grids. And even our own networks.

from Researchers at the University of California, Irvine (United States) today argue that the consequences of such solar storm It could be worse than expected. a weather report unfavorable spatial – expulsion Mass Coronal large enough – can cause black out from the network Internet. Failure may last several weeks. Until several months.

Fortunately, such solar storms are rare. At least, those who managed to touch the ground. In a study not yet peer-reviewed, the researchers estimate that the chance of one of them occurring is between 1.6 and 12% per decade. In our modern history, scientists remember mainly one of them, the famous Carrington event, which occurred in 1859. shooting for telegraph wires.

Don’t let yourself be surprised

Since then, our society has relied on technology and in particular onInternet, continued to increase. managers power grid Includes risks associated with solar storms. But few studies have been done on the potential effects of such an event on the World Wide Web. Their verdict: The infrastructure is not ready.

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To connect the continents, in fact, long cables meander at the bottom of the seas. It is equipped with repeatersto amplify the signals. However, it is very sensitive to geomagnetic currents caused by charged particles coming from Soleil. One repeater is broken and the entire cable run can be questioned. Fortunately, the network is built to be flexible. Take other routes if the direct path is cut off. However, if enough repeaters fail simultaneously, it is feared that entire continents will find themselves isolated from one another. With repairs in the middle Submarine Always sensitive.

Researchers already estimate that a one-day internet outage in the US would cost more than $7 billion. So imagine a power outage that could last for weeks or months… Researchers warn that when the next solar storm is detected in our region starWe will have about 13 hours to respond. It would be better to prepare before hitting the cables in the bass latitudes – because higher latitudes are more exposed, in particular, the cables connecting Europe and the United States, are located above 40°N latitude – by better insulating lower cables and by developing impact tests, for example. Especially since satellites are also used to ensure that communications can be affected. The good news is all the same, the researchers say, local links should hold up better. The fiber optic cables In fact, it is not affected by geomagnetic currents.

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