1859 solar superstorm

On Sept. 2, 1859, an incredible storm of charged particles sent by the sun slammed into Earth's atmosphere, overpowered it, and caused havoc on the ground. Telegraph wires, the high-tech stuff of the time, suddenly shorted out in the United States and Europe, igniting widespread fires. Colorful aurora, normally visible only in polar regions, were seen as far south as Cuba and Hawaii.
Earth's magnetic field normally protects the surface of the planet from some storms. In 1859, the planet's defenses were totally overwhelmed. Over the past decade, similar but less powerful storms have likewise busted through, giving scientists insight into what will eventually happen again.
The outlook is not rosy.

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