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March 15 2013

Tree Rings Reveal Ancient Solar Eruption, Study Suggests


A mysterious burst of charged particles from space hit Earth at some point from 774 to 775 C.E. Scientists know this thanks to a spike in radioactive carbon found in ancient tree rings. What they didn't know was the source of the burst.

Now, a team of physicists argues that our own sun was the culprit. The sun normally emits bursts of charged particles called coronal mass ejections (lower left of image), but they either never strike the Earth or are too weak to do much damage.

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