Another solar storm is on its way, and the Internet is once again in jeopardy. According to recent research on solar storms, a big impending solar storm is expected to harm infrastructure, causing a gigantic digital catastrophe in the process.
According to the Hindustan Times, a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), also known as a solar storm, is a directional ejection of a large mass of highly magnetized particles from the sun, according to a research paper published by Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi of the University of California, Irvine and VMware Research.
According to the research, when the planet is in the direct path of a solar storm, these magnetized and charged solar particles interact with the earth’s magnetic field, causing various consequences, including damage to long-distance cables that serve as the Internet’s backbone.
Meanwhile, the modern Internet largely employs fiber optic connections, which, unlike prior generations of coaxial cables, are resistant to solar storms since they carry light rather than electric current.
According to the study, long-haul cables that span hundreds or thousands of kilometres include an additional wire called the power feeding line that links repeaters in series throughout the length of the cables. This conductor will be affected by solar storms.
According to the study, Submarine cables are more vulnerable to a solar storm than terrestrial cables, owing to their longer lengths. The impact of a solar storm on the internet infrastructure is also believed to be depending on topology.
While solar storms have a more significant impact on undersea cables, the study claims that communication satellites are among the most vulnerable systems to be harmed by one.
“The effects are produced by direct exposure to highly charged particles in CMEs, not by GIC… Damage to electrical components and additional drag on the satellite, particularly in low earth orbit systems like Starlink, can induce orbital decay and uncontrolled descent to earth,” the researcher noted.
What effect does a solar storm have?
According to the researchers, the majority of the repeaters are prone to failure. And if most of a network’s repeaters go down, it may result in an internet blackout in a country that relies only on underwater connections.
The Internet is now built in such a manner that if one path fails, traffic may be redirected through another. However, this would come at a significant cost in terms of both connectivity and speed.