The evidence of the first ever solar storm recorded by humanity has been discovered in an ancient Chinese text. The text talks about a “five-colored light” in the sky.
A new study of an ancient Chinese text might have revealed the first ever solar storm humans managed to record. A 10th century B.C. Chinese text describes “five-colored light” in the northern part of the night sky, which might be hinting at auroras. The fantastic patterned bright lights that are seen after a solar storm strikes the Earth. According to the text, this aurora was seen near the end of the reign of King Zhao, the fourth king of the Chinese Zhou dynasty. Now, there are a few questions that arise. China is not an area where auroras or northern lights are generally seen. Further, aurora are usually not seen in five different colors, instead just a blue-green or orange-green radiance. So, was it really an aurora? And is it really the first ever solar storm recorded in history? Read on to find out.
The author of the study, Hisashi Hayakawa is an assistant professor at the Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research at Nagoya University in Japan. He told Live Science that the text was discovered in the Bamboo Annals (known as Zhushu Jìnian in Mandarin). These are a fourth-century B.C. text written on bamboo slips that talk about early Chinese history and its chronicles. While researchers had the knowledge about these Bamboo Annals for a while, the reference of auroras have recently come to light.
Ancient Chinese texts mentions the first ever solar storm recorded in history
Whether the observation mentioned in the text was a solar storm induced aurora or not was the big question. And the question was valid since auroras are only visible in the higher latitudes. But the researchers believe it could well have been possible. During the 10th century B.C., Earth’s north magnetic pole inclined toward the Eastern Europe and Central Asia. So, it is possible that ancient people in China, as far south as the north of Beijing, could have seen solar storm strikes to Earth and the colorful lights they produced.
This would also explain why the first ever solar storm mentioned in the ancient Chinese text talks about five-colored lights as mid-latitude auroras display more colors due to higher refraction of light due to a denser atmosphere.
Previously, the oldest auroras were recorded by Assyrian astronomers on cuneiform tablets, between 679 B.C. and 655 B.C., according to another study by Hayakawa in 2019. If this study is to be believed, then it beats the Assyrian records by 300 years! It also highlights how the magnetic pole of the Earth caused aurora to be displayed even in the mid-latitude