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In the late eighth century, Earth was hit by a mystery blast of cosmic rays, according to a Japanese study that found a relic of the powerful event in cedar trees.
Analysis of two ancient trees found a surge in carbon-14 -- a carbon isotope that derives from cosmic radiation -- which occurred just in AD 774 and AD 775, the team report in the journal Nature on Sunday.
Earth is battered by protons and other sub-atomic particles which are blasted across space by high-energy sources.
The particles collide with the stratosphere and react with nitrogen to create carbon-14, which is then absorbed into the biosphere.
"With our present knowledge, we cannot specify the cause of this event," Miyake admits.
"However, we can say that an extremely energetic event occurred around our space environment in AD 775 ... (but) neither a solar flare nor a local supernova is likely to have been responsible."
Originally posted by Chadwickus
reply to post by elevenaugust
Wonder if there are other tell tale signs of this event elsewhere in the world, at least half the planet would have been facing it when it occurred...
Also, I think they may be dismissing it being caused by a solar flare too easily, since they say it would have had to be bigger than anything ever recorded...unless the flare needed to do this is unrealisticly large.
edit on 4/6/12 by Chadwickus because: (no reason given)
Baker, however, thinks that Miyake's team may have been too quick to rule out a solar flare. Flares are sometimes associated with coronal mass ejections (CMEs) — huge eruptions of magnetically charged plasma from the Sun's atmosphere that send streams of charged particles towards Earth. It might be possible, he says, for CMEs to be accompanied by conditions in which an unusual number of protons are accelerated to super-high energies, even without the flare itself being "ridiculously strong".
"We know much more these days about how important proton acceleration is at the shock fronts that precede CME structures as they propagate towards Earth," Baker says. "I would like to think about whether a strong CME moving directly towards Earth could have produced the intense proton population that impacted Earth's atmosphere."
However, when the darkness of night set in, a mysterious flame of light was seen to hover above the spot, which attracted the notice of some fishermen. Night after night the light appeared at the same part of the river.
A.D. 774. This year the Northumbrians banished their king,
Alred, from York at Easter-tide; and chose Ethelred, the son of
Mull, for their lord, who reigned four winters. This year also
appeared in the heavens a red crucifix, after sunset; the
Mercians and the men of Kent fought at Otford; and wonderful
serpents were seen in the land of the South-Saxons.