Major solar storms have lashed the planet in the past but these occurred before the advent of the Internet, satellite technology and high-speed communications.
The biggest solar storm on record occurred in 1859 and is known as the Carrington Event.
Triggered by a coronal mass ejection (CME) – a large expulsion of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun – the storm fried telegraph wires across North America and Europe, sparking several fires.
Particularly strong CMEs can be sent hurtling our way by so-called solar “tsunamis” on the surface of the Sun.
According to NASA, these are waves of hot plasma that rise higher than Earth and ripple out in a circular pattern millions of miles in circumference.
If one of these solar tsunamis caused a Carrington-level event today, it would lead to widespread blackouts, knock out satellites and plunge the planet into a state of chaos.