The Titanic may have hit the iceberg after being diverted off course by a huge solar flare, a study has suggested.
Mila Zinkova, an US independent researcher and a retired computer scientist, said there is new evidence of strong solar activity on the fateful night of the sinking of the Harland and Wolff-constructed passenger liner.
The Belfast-built Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 15, 1912.
More than 1,500 people died when the ship, which was carrying 2,224 passengers and crew, sank under the command of Captain Edward Smith.
According to Ms Zinkova's new study, a huge solar storm could have caused the magnetic compass to point slightly away from magnetic north, leading the ship on its disastrous course.
She believes this could have interfered with Titanic's wireless transmission system, which likely blocked distress signals from reaching other vessels.
Ms Zinkova wrote in the journal Weather: "The Titanic struck an iceberg at 2340 ship time on April 14, 1912 (0310 UTC, April 15) in light winds and a relatively calm sea state.
"The Titanic's Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall worked out the ship's SOS position. Boxhall's position was around 13 nautical miles off their real position.
"The rescue ship Carpathia received this wrong position, but somehow miraculously streamed directly to the Titanic's lifeboats.
"Both the error and correction may have been caused by the effect of space weather.
"It is considered here that a significant space weather event, in this instance a geomagnetic storm, was present during the period around the Titanic's disaster, with some impacts upon navigation and communication."
She added that a negligible compass error, which might have resulted from the storm, could have placed Titanic on the collision course.
"The geomagnetic storm might have been partly responsible for the incorrect calculation of the Titanic's SOS position in both direct and indirect ways by influencing the compass, and by adding to the stress level of the navigators who performed the calculations.
"If Titanic's compass error were only 0.5°, she would have been off her course for around 9 m over 1 km of the run.
"This apparently insignificant error could have made the difference between colliding with the iceberg and avoiding it," Ms Zinkova continued.
Eyewitness accounts from the time have stated that there were auroras in the skies.
Titanic survivor and author Lawrence Beesley described the Northern Lights in his accounts of the disaster, recalling that he saw them from a lifeboat after the ship sank.
Mr Beesley said: "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.
"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."