'Extreme solar storm' could have pulled the plug on Earth
Satellites, power and water supplies would have been hit if billion-ton plasma cloud had erupted from sun a week earlier
The date of 23 July 2012 could have been the day the lights went out, along with suddenly not-so-smart phones, computers, satellite transmissions, GPS navigation systems, televisions, radio broadcasts, hospital equipment, electric pumps and water supplies.
On that day an “extreme solar storm” did its best to end life on Earth as we know it. The sun forced out one of the biggest plasma clouds ever detected at a speed of 3,000km per second, more than four times faster than a typical solar eruption. Fortunately it missed.