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A doomsday conspiracy theory has spread on TikTok, with users claiming Earth will be hit by a huge solar flare on September 24. Videos about the imagined event have been viewed millions of times.
According to Vice, QAnon followers and conspiracy theorists were quick to point out the connection between this date and an episode of the Simpsons (Episode 9, Season 24) in which doomsday preppers discuss the complete breakdown of society.
"September 24, 2022 will be remembered by all of us as a day which we will say, "I remember exactly where I was," German politician Friedrich Merz said in an ominous clip that has been circulating on social media.
No one quite knows what to expect from 9/24 but the most popular theory is that Earth will be hit by a massive solar flare, which will supposedly bring about the end of the world.
Solar flares occur when dark areas on the surface of the sun, known as sunspots, cause the sun's magnetic fields to become entangled. This results in a sudden explosion of light and radiation known as a solar flare.
The amount of energy released by these flares is equivalent to millions of nuclear bombs going off at the same time so it is no wonder people are concerned.
But is there any substance behind the doomsday conspiracy about September 24?
From analyzing current solar activity, the probability of any major solar flare happening on this date is extremely low. As of Friday morning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center hadn't issued any solar storm warnings.
What's more, according to NASA, even if a large solar flare were to occur, it would be unlikely to cause direct harm to humans due to the shielding effect of the Earth's atmosphere. That's not to say it would go unnoticed; powerful radiation like this could disrupt the high frequency radio signals used in navigational systems around the world.
As of September 23, there are five active sunspot regions facing Earth. SpaceWeatherLive.com, which records real-time solar activity, says that all of these regions have just a 1 percent chance of producing an X-class solar flare—the largest type of flare produced by the sun. One region, Region 3105, has a 15 percent chance of producing an M-class flare, the second largest type.
This type of solar flare is unlikely to cause any significant disruption to Earth, although it could interfere with satellite systems and cause an aurora in the Northern Hemisphere.
According to the official minutes of Merz's address, the politician had meant to say the February 24, not September, in his speech, in reference to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The 9/24 doomsday has been officially debunked.