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I was told in the bar at a wargames convention about an event that is supposed to have taken place on 7th June 1944, when suddenly the Allies lost all radio communication. There was a great deal of concern that the Germans had somehow managed to find a way to jam Allied signals, but this concern faded as communications where gradually restored over the next few hours and days (for smaller transmitters).

It is further said that the Germans lost all radio communication at the same time and were concerned that the Allies had found a way...etc.

So the story goes, the cause was later tracked down as a cosmic particle shower resulting from an X-ray burst event in the Andromeda galaxy.

I'd like to know: is there a speck of truth in any of this, and where I might find out more about it?

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    Never heard of it. It would be much more likely to be a solar event than anything from outside the system. And, yes, I've been told many things in wargames conventions. Jun 4 '11 at 14:45
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This solar storms site (no opinion of its reliability) says that sunspots caused radio problems in 1943 in the invasion of Italy (not enough detail to tell whether they're talking about Sicily or Salerno), which would be close enough for a wargames convention bar.

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I'm a little out of my comfort zone here, but I'll give it a stab.

Cosmic rays are energetic charged subatomic particles, originating from outer space. They may produce secondary particles that penetrate Earth's atmosphere and surface.The term ray is historical as cosmic rays were thought to be electromagnetic radiation. Most primary cosmic rays (those which impact the atmosphere from deep space) are composed of familiar stable particles that normally occur on Earth, such as protons, atomic nuclei, or electrons. However, a very small fraction are stable particles of antimatter, such as positrons or antiprotons, and the nature of this remaining fraction is an area of active research. - Wikipedia
This release of energy may be observed as in increase in the star's luminosity with a space telescope, and is called an X-ray burst. These bursts cannot be observed on Earth's surface because our atmosphere is opaque to X-rays. - Wikipedia

Cosmic particles and X-Ray bursts are made of difference sorts of things, and both come from outer-space (as opposed to be created in the atmosphere). X-Ray bursts don't get through the atmosphere.

So suggesting a X-ray burst (electromagnetic rays from outer space) caused a cosmic shower (particles from outer space) causing radio interference (electromagnetic noise) at the surface of the Earth (beneath the protection of the atmosphere) makes no sense.

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  • I suppose a gamma-ray burst could have done it though Jun 4 '11 at 11:24
  • I believe that gamma-ray bursts and X-ray bursts are now considered essentially the same thing. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_ray
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 4 '11 at 11:34
  • Traditionally gamma rays have a smaller wavelength than x-rays and don't interact with the atmosphere as much--that's what I'm referring to here. When referring to higher than UV radiation on Earth though, I think the name just depends on the source. Jun 4 '11 at 12:25
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    Noise is not necessarily the mechanism of interference. Long distance radio relies on particular layers of the ionosophere as reflectors. Change the frequency for which it is an effective reflector, and the radio rendezvous on a particular time and frequency doesn't work any more. X-ray events can do that: see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_propagation
    – Paul
    Jun 4 '11 at 18:06
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    I would be skeptical about cosmic X-rays vs solar ones just because of one over distance squared.
    – Paul
    Jun 4 '11 at 18:18

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