Could a powerful solar storm wipe out the internet?

In Becky Chambers’ 2019 novel Learn if Lucky, a massive solar storm wipes out Earth’s internet, leaving a group of astronauts stranded in space with no way home. It’s a scary prospect, but could a solar storm bring down the Internet in real life? And if so, how likely is that to happen?

Yes, it could happen, but it would require a giant solar storm, Matthew Owens, a solar physicist at the University of Reading in the UK, told Live Science. “You would really need some kind of massive event to do that, which is not impossible,” Owens said. “But I would think a power grid failure is more likely.” In fact, this phenomenon has already happened on a small scale.

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