Could a solar storm ever destroy Earth?

All life on Earth owes its existence to the sun’s radiant heat. But what happens when that radiation surges out of control, and billions of tons of charged solar material suddenly barrel our way at thousands of miles a second? What happens when Earth takes a direct hit from a solar flare — and could a strong enough one ever destroy life on our planet as we know it?

The answers are complicated, but most scientists agree on one thing: Earth’s magnetic field and insulating atmosphere keep us extremely well protected from even the most powerful solar outbursts. While solar storms can tamper with radar and radio systems or knock satellites offline, the most harmful radiation is sopped up in the sky long before it touches human skin.

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