Could a powerful solar storm wipe out the internet?

In Becky Chambers’ 2019 novella “To Be Taught, If Fortunate,” a massive solar storm wipes out Earth’s Internet, leaving a group of astronauts stranded in space with no way to call home. It’s a scary prospect, but could a solar storm hit the internet in real life? And if so, how likely is that to happen?

Yes, it could happen, but it would take a massive solar storm, Matthew Owens, a solar physicist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, told Live Science. “You would need a really massive event to do that, which is not impossible,” Owens said. “But I would think it’s more likely to hit the power grids.” In fact, this phenomenon has already occurred on a small scale.

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