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The Drake equation is a calculation providing an upper bound on the likely number of intelligent species in our galaxy. In order to reconcile a potentially high occurrence of intelligent extraterrestrial species with the current non-observation of them, we frequently resort to some Great Filter which represents some inevitable, cataclysmic fate (such as nuclear war, pandemic, or asteroid impact) that tends to await enough worlds to negate the expectation that the galaxy ought to be teeming with intelligent life. This paper is intended to examine one potential Great Filter for electronic-based civilizations, the impact of a Carrington-class coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun. Carrington-class CMEs are classified as "once in a century" events caused by our Sun; this appears to place a time limit, following the development of a civilization dependent on electronic devices, either for hardening electronics against the geomagnetically induced currents that result from CMEs or for beginning interplanetary colonization.


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Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific