On 15/4/1912, the world received a shocking news. RMS Titanic – the second largest steamship in history, collided with an iceberg in the Atlantic, and then permanently lay in the cold ocean with thousands of ill-fated passengers.
Titanic has gone down in history as the most serious maritime disaster, and there are many theories about why. From the carelessness of the captain, the subjectivity of the investor (with too few lifeboats for aesthetic reasons), to the fire in the fuel compartment.
But is it really just that? According to a recent study in the US, experts have pointed out another factor that can seriously affect the ship and lead to the disaster. It is the Sun, or more precisely, the “Solar Storm”.
In fact, the magnetic field emitted from solar storms could do a lot of damage to the navigation system – if the density is large enough. Such a storm in 1859 – known as the “Carrington event” – created a large amount of currents in the wire, and shocked the operator with an electric shock.
If a Solar hurricane is large enough like Carrington today, experts believe it will cause unpredictable damage to the global energy network, and could create disaster comparable to Titanic.
You know what the sign of a solar storm is? It is the aurorae – the light generated by interactions between molecules in the atmosphere and the Sun. And in fact, the night Titanic stabbed the iceberg, the aurora appeared.
“Those who wrote about Titanic, most did not know that the aurora appeared that night” – retired weather expert Mila Zinkova shared.
Solar storms can affect the directional compass. “And if the compass deviates by even one degree, it can make terrifying differences,” she added.
Lawrence Beesley, one of the lucky Titanic survivors, described seeing aurora before the disaster. He said he saw the light from the lifeboat, and initially thought it was dawn.
“We weren’t sure about the timing, because then we just felt relieved that the darkness had eased somewhat, and began to see each other’s faces.”
“But then everything was in disappointment: the light intensified for a while, then suddenly weakened, then glowed again. It stayed that way for several minutes.”
James Bisset – the officer on the RMS Carpathia ship arriving to rescue the Titanic victim also had a similar aurora note about an hour before Titanic crashed into the iceberg.
“The weather is quite calm, the sea surface is smooth, there is no wind. The sky is clear, the stars are also sparkling. There is no moonlight, but auroras appear from the northern horizon” – quoted in the logbook. by Bisset.
According to Zinkova, the auroras also cause another effect that can make the Titanic accident become … less serious. In the case of the Carpathia, when receiving the Titanic’s call for help, they were located about 25km from the actual position of the accident. However, they did arrive at the correct position of the lifeboats – an effect that Ms. Zinkova deems truly lucky, since the solar magnetic field compensated for the compass’s positioning error.
“In addition, the light from the aurora also supports a better rescue process” – she added. According to records, the Carpathia successfully rescued 705 people from more than 20 Titanic lifeboats.
“The fact that a lot of people saw the aurorae shows that there was actually an astronomical phenomenon happening at that time” – Chris Scott from the University of Reading (UK) said.
The entire study is published in the scientific journal Weather.