, Their target, not a terrorist training camp, not a drug cartel.. This special SWAT team is about to raid an astronomical observatory. The Sunspot Solar Observatory used by NASA to understand and keep watch on the sun., HAKEEM OLUSEYI, There’s, Blackhawk helicopters and FBI agents swarming all over the place. NARRATOR Government agents shut down the observatory and evacuate the 250 acre site. Local police are left in the dark. RADIO. Chatter And the employees are silenced., JOHN BRANDENBURG. Well, everyone had to sign some kind of secrecy agreement that whatever they had seen, could not be disclosed.. They treated it as if a national security breach had occurred. HAKEEM OLUSEYI. Is there something we should know NARRATOR? The FBI says their raid and 11 day. Lockdown is in response to an observatory employee accused of misusing the internet.. Many find this explanation difficult to believe. SETH SHOSTAK. This is an observatory.. This one looks at the sun.. Maybe they found something that we should be concerned. About. NARRATOR, But what could the astronomers have seen that they shouldn’t have There’s been some wild theories. HAKEEM OLUSEYI, This daytime sky is our blind spot.. If you really want to sneak up on a planet, come from the direction of the sun. NARRATOR Military strategists throughout history. Have used glaring, sunlight for surprise, attacks., HAKEEM OLUSEYI When a fighter pilot or a bomber is doing a run. They come from the sunward direction., So they can’t be seen.. Narrator Could astronomers have detected something headed towards Earth using the sun as cover HAKEEM OLUSEYI? If people found out about that, it could cause a panic.

, So maybe the observatory needed to be shut down to keep it secret. NARRATOR, But no other observatory or monitoring station has reported anything suspicious heading for Earth.. Some researchers ask if the shutdown is linked to the solar, observatory’s specific and most important work, the charting of solar activity.. It is well known that certain forms of solar activity can affect life on Earth, such as a burst of solar radiation, known as a coronal mass ejection., ALEX FILIPPENKO It’s very difficult to predict the occurrence of a coronal mass ejection. LEE BILLINGS For NASA. This is a serious problem. NARRATOR Coronal mass ejections explode with the power of 20 million nuclear bombs. ELECTRICITY SIZZLES. They create a huge electromagnetic impulse that can knock out power grids across whole continents. LEE BILLINGS. The amount of damage we would face both on the ground and in space from a solar event, could be catastrophic. MUSIC PLAYING. So are we about to be hit by a solar tsunami of radiation particles NARRATOR, But coronal mass ejections take just three days to reach Earth and would have hit by now. Far far more worrying than this some fear. The solar astronomers may have observed a subtle change in the size of the sun, the beginning of the end of our entire solar system., HAKEEM OLUSEYI, The sun powers life here on Earth., So it’s the life giver., But the sun. It has a deadly ace up its sleeve. SETH SHOSTAK. The sun at the moment is turning hydrogen into helium.

. It works like a giant H, bomb, OK, But eventually it’s going to run out of the hydrogen. NARRATOR. When the sun exhausts all the hydrogen fuel, it won’t. Just turn off like a light bulb. Without nuclear fusion pushing gases out the core begins to collapse under its own gravity. HAKEEM OLUSEYI, Because it’s getting smaller it’s getting hotter.. Once the temperature in the core of the sun reaches 100 million degrees, the helium will ignite., And when that happens, the sun will expand drastically and suddenly. ALEX FILIPPENKO. It will expand out to what’s called a red. Giant. Earth will be literally fried., NARRATOR Might solar astronomers? Have detected the first signs of change in the sun, the beginning of the end of the solar system, HAKEEM OLUSEYI It’s. No wonder ancient people worship the sun as a god, because not only does it provide us life, but in the end the sun could ultimately spell doom for all of Earth. NARRATOR, Most astronomers believe our sun is currently stable. And they hope it will stay so for Billions more years. But astronomers know that sun, like stars elsewhere in the universe, act, erratically. And there’s, no guarantee that ours could not suddenly surprise us.. The FBI could have shut down the observatory to contain the alarming information and halt the spread of mass panic around the world. LEE BILLINGS. The sun is one of the most dangerous things in the solar system. And we still don’t know everything about it.

NARRATOR 11 days. After it was closed, the Sunspot Observatory is reopened and watching the sun again.. Despite the official government explanation that a rogue employee’s actions triggered the shutdown some investigators remain unconvinced.. John BRANDENBURG. There appears to be a set of occurrences going on, of which this seizure of this observatory is kind of the tip of the iceberg.

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