RMS Titanic: Solar flare may have contributed to the sinking of the luxury ...

The RMS Titanic may have only taken the exact fateful course that saw it holed and sunk by an iceberg on April 15, 1912 because a solar flare threw off the vessel's compass readings, a study has proposed. 

According to a US-based meteorologist, the liner's last night sailing the Atlantic was illuminated by the aurora borealis — the light show caused by the interaction with the atmosphere of charged particles from the sun.

Based on eyewitness accounts of the aurora's appearance that night, she argues, the 'geomagnetic storm' may have been large enough to influence navigation to a small, but nevertheless significant degree.

The interference may also have served to disrupt wireless transmissions between the sinking liner and other vessels in the nearby vicinity — blocking some the Titanic's distress calls and the messages sent in response.

However, the researcher claims, the magnetic disruption may have had an upside — helping to offset the error in the Titanic's broadcast position, accidentally leading another vessel to the correct location of the liner's lifeboats.

Solar flares can cause substantial damage, if of a high enough intensity. A storm in 1859, for example — the 'Carrington Event' — induced such currents in telegraph wires that pylons sparked and operators received shocks.

Were such an event to happen today, experts believe it would cause unprecedented levels of damage to electronics and power grids across the globe — with the potential for tragedy on a par with that of the Titanic.

The RMS Titanic may have only taken the exact fateful course that saw it holed and sunk by an iceberg on April 15, 1912 because a solar flare threw off the vessel's compass readings, a study has proposed. Pictured, the sinking of the Titanic

The RMS Titanic may have only taken the exact fateful course that saw it holed and sunk by an iceberg on April 15, 1912 because a solar flare threw off the vessel's compass readings, a study has proposed. Pictured, the sinking of the Titanic

According to a US meteorologist, the liner's last night sailing was illuminated by the aurora borealis — the light show caused by the interaction with the atmosphere of charged particles released from by a solar flare, pictured. Based on accounts of the aurora's appearance that night, she argues, the 'geomagnetic storm' may have been large enough to influence navigation

According to a US meteorologist, the liner's last night sailing was illuminated by the aurora borealis — the light show caused by the interaction with the atmosphere of charged particles released from by a solar flare, pictured. Based on accounts of the aurora's appearance that night, she argues, the 'geomagnetic storm' may have been large enough to influence navigation

RMS TITANIC: SPECIFICATIONS

Length: 882 ft 9 in 

Width: 92 ft 6 in (beam)

Tonnage: 46,328 GRT

Decks: 9

Boilers: 24 

Engines:

Power: 46,000 HP

Max speed: 24 knots 

Cost: £1.5 million (£140 m in 2016)

Capacity: 2,435 + 892 crew

Facilities: Included a pool, Turkish baths, kennels and post office

Advertisement

'Most people who write about Titanic, they don’t know that northern lights were seen on that night,' independent weather researcher and retired computer programmer Mila Zinkova of California told Hakai magazine.

'Even if the compass moved only one degree, it already could have made a difference,'  she added.

Titanic survivor and author Lawrence Beesley described seeing the aurora borealis in his account of the disaster, writing that after the vessel had gone under, he saw from the lifeboats 'a faint glow in the sky ahead on the starboard quarter, the first gleams, we thought, of the coming dawn.'

'We were not certain of the time and were eager perhaps to accept too readily any relief from darkness — only too glad to be able to look each other in the face and see who were our companions in good fortune; to be free from the hazard of lying in a steamer’s track, invisible in the darkness,' he continued. 

'But we were doomed to disappointment: the soft light increased for a time, and died away a little; glowed again, and then remained stationary for some minutes! "The Northern Lights"! It suddenly came to me, and so it was.'

In a similar , second officer James Bisset of the RMS Carpathia — the Cunard line passenger steamer, bound for Fiume in Austria-Hungary (today Rijeka, Croatia), that came to the rescue of the Titanic's survivors — made note of the northern lights in his log around one hour before the Titanic struck the iceberg.

'The weather was calm, the sea smooth, with no wind. The sky was clear, and the stars were shining. There was no moon, but the Aurora Borealis glimmered like moonbeams shooting up from the northern horizon,' he wrote.

According to Mr Bisset's logs, the space weather was still going strong some five hours later, as the Carpathia neared the lifeboats.

'Though the night was cloudless, and stars were shining, the peculiar atmospheric conditions of visibility intensified as we approached the icefield with the greenish beams of the Aurora Borealis shimmering and confusing the horizon ahead of us to the northwards,' he noted.

'Most people who write about Titanic, they don’t know that northern lights were seen on that night,' independent weather researcher and retired computer programmer Mila Zinkova of California told Hakai magazine . 'Even if the compass moved only one degree, it already could have made a difference,' she added. Pictured, the Titanic seen at her berth in Southampton

'Most people who write about Titanic, they don’t know that northern lights were seen on that night,' independent weather researcher and retired computer programmer Mila Zinkova of California told Hakai magazine . 'Even if the compass moved only one degree, it already could have made a difference,' she added. Pictured, the Titanic seen at her berth in Southampton

The Titanic — which sank on April 15, 1912, after a collision with an iceberg — lies on the seafloor around 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. The liner made two short stops en route to her planned Atlantic crossing — one at the French port of Cherbourg, the other at Cork Harbour, Ireland, where smaller vessels ferried passengers on and off board

The Titanic — which sank on April 15, 1912, after a collision with an iceberg — lies on the seafloor around 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. The liner made two short stops en route to her planned Atlantic crossing — one at the French port of Cherbourg, the other at Cork Harbour, Ireland, where smaller vessels ferried passengers on and off board

'The fact that so many people saw the aurora makes me confident that there was a space weather event happening,' space and atmospheric physicist Chris Scott of the University of Reading, who was not involved in the study, told Hakai magazine. Pictured, the bow of the Titanic looms out of the murky depths in her resting place off of the coast of Newfoundland

'The fact that so many people saw the aurora makes me confident that there was a space weather event happening,' space and atmospheric physicist Chris Scott of the University of Reading, who was not involved in the study, told Hakai magazine. Pictured, the bow of the Titanic looms out of the murky depths in her resting

read more from dailymail.....

PREV The new Apple Watch models vs. the competition: Below the surface
NEXT 'Rocket League' will go free-to-play on September 23rd