solar storm
NASA

A video revealed what would happen to Earth if it suddenly gets hit by a powerful solar storm caused by the Sun. Since almost everything on the planet relies on electricity, a solar storm would trigger events that are more severe than a simple power outage.

The grim scenario involving a massive solar storm on Earth was tackled by the YouTube channel What If. In one of its videos, the channel discussed how solar storms are formed and how they can affect today's modern society.

According to the video's narrator, solar storms are formed when plasma and electromagnetic radiation erupt from the Sun's surface. These eruptions, which are known as coronal mass ejections, can travel millions of kilometres in space.

Once they reach Earth, the highly-charged particles of CMEs can affect the magnetic field of the planet, causing electrical disruptions in different parts of the world. In addition, the particles would interrupt the communication between satellites and Earth.

"This would block radio signals between the Earth and our orbiting satellites, but wouldn't damage them just yet," the video's presenter stated. "Not until minutes to hours later, when a stream of charged particles started bombarding the Earth's magnetosphere."

After a while, the particles would completely damage the electrical components of satellites. This means that systems that rely on satellites such as GPS would stop working. If this happens, those who rely on GPS such as aeroplane pilots would be forced to navigate without it.

Once the solar storm formed by CMEs reaches Earth, its highly-charged particles would cause power grids to overload, leading to widespread blackouts. This means that all facilities that rely on electricity including subways and water pumping stations would be completely disabled.

"Make sure you have some spare cash because all the ATMs would be useless, just like your credit cards," the presenter said. "Most likely, you wouldn't even be able to flush your toilet, since in most modern cities water supply is controlled electronically."

In addition to power outages, CME particles could also disrupt online systems that devices rely on. This means that information stored within these systems might get corrupted or deleted.

"It wouldn't be just a world-wide power outage," the presenter explained. "We'd lose all the information stored on our electronics, too. All those photo memories you always wanted to print out but never did would cease to exist."