Space weather may have played a part in the Titanic disaster, according to new research.
In the research published in the Royal Meteorological Society’s journal Weather, Mila Zinkova writes that space weather may have affected the Titanic’s navigation and communication prior to the disaster, as well as impacting the rescue operation.
“The significant space weather event was in the form of a moderate to strong geomagnetic storm that observational evidence suggests was in effect in the North Atlantic at the time of the tragedy,” Zinkova writes, in an abstract of the study.
The Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic at 11:40 p.m. ship's time on April 14, 1912, during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. The liner sank just over two hours later with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.
There have been other examples of space weather impacting systems on Earth. On Sept. 2, 1859, space weather caused the disruption of telegraph service, according to NASA, in what is known as “The Carrington Event.”
On March 13, 1989, geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) impacted the Hydro-Québec power network in Canada. A transformer failure caused a blackout that affected over 6 million people, the space agency explains on its website.
“The geomagnetic storm causing this event was itself the result of a CME [Coronal Mass Ejection] ejected from the sun on March 9, 1989,” it said.
More than 100 years after the Titanic’s sinking, the disaster continues to be a source of fascination. Last year, an expedition to the Titanic led by EYOS Expeditions revealed the ill-fated liner’s deterioration on the North Atlantic seabed.
Eerie footage of the dive obtained by the BBC showed the Titanic’s rusting bow and parts of the ship’s wrecked hull. Despite the wreck’s rapidly deteriorating state, glass can still be seen in some of the Titanic’s portholes.
In 2017, a sea-stained letter recovered from the body of a Titanic victim was sold at auction for $166,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers