When Our Star Erupts - The 1859 Solar Storm And More : Short Wave In 1859, astronomer Richard Carrington was studying the Sun when he witnessed the most intense geomagnetic storm recorded in history. The storm, triggered by a giant solar flare, sent brilliant auroral displays across the globe and causing electrical sparking and fires in telegraph stations.

Short Wave's scientist-in-residence Regina G. Barber talks to solar physicist Dr. Samaiyah Farid about what's now known as the Carrington event and about what may happen the next time a massive solar storm hits Earth.

You can check out NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory for pictures of our Sun in real-time: go.nasa.gov/3LOWV1u

Curious about other parts of our solar system? Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

When Our Star Erupts - The 1859 Solar Storm And More

When Our Star Erupts - The 1859 Solar Storm And More

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The sun emits a mid-level solar flare releasing a burst of solar material. NASA hide caption

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NASA

The sun emits a mid-level solar flare releasing a burst of solar material.

NASA

In 1859, astronomer Richard Carrington was studying the Sun when he witnessed the most intense geomagnetic storm recorded in history. The storm, triggered by a giant solar flare, sent brilliant auroral displays across the globe and causing electrical sparking and fires in telegraph stations.

Short Wave's scientist-in-residence Regina G. Barber talks to solar physicist Dr. Samaiyah Farid about what's now known as the Carrington event and about what may happen the next time a massive solar storm hits Earth.

You can check out NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory for pictures of our Sun in real-time.

Curious about other parts of our solar system? Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Eva Tesfaye. Stephanie O’Neill was the editor and Margaret Cirino checked the facts. The audio engineer was Patrick Murray.

Correction May 5, 2022

The first version of this story stated there was a solar flare associated with the CME before the Carrington Event. There was no evidence of that flare, just the CME. The audio has been updated to reflect the more accurate information.