I have an article published in this week's (2929 10 August) New Scientist magazine:
Solar superflares: A new danger from the sun
SOMETHING with almost unimaginable power hit Earth in AD 775. Europe was in the grip of the dark ages, yet the skies were alight. "Fiery and fearful signs were seen in the heavens after sunset; and serpents appeared in Sussex, as if they were sprung out of the ground, to the astonishment of all," recorded the 13th-century English chronicler Roger of Wendover.
We don't just have his word for it. In the past year, new evidence has come to light confirming that something cataclysmic took place in the solar system that year. But what? There are no signs of a mass extinction or an environmental disaster which would normally accompany such an event. More mysterious is that no trace of it appears in the heavens today.
The only clues to what happened are found locked inside ancient tree rings. What they reveal is shocking. A supremely powerful blast of radiation ...
Read it online here.
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