Wednesday , May 12 2021

Data from the International Space Station confirms: Lightning is insane, Ars Technica


      Shocking –


Gamma rays, an electromagnetic pulse, and a huge UV halo, all in less than a second.



************************************************************** Lightning is such a common phenomenon that people often overlook just how powerful it is (provided itlighting up IndonesiaA paper released by Science today describes ASIM’s imaging of a single lightning bolt, which took place in off the coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia . Optical activity heralded the formation of the lightning bolt and started to intensify about 800 microseconds before the gamma rays began registering in the detectors. The gamma rays were primarily in the form of a transient flash lasting about 90 microseconds, but there was a “long” tail of emissions that extended out to 538 microseconds as their energy gradually declined.

UV light started arriving right at the same time that the gamma-ray burst hit. The initial UV light was produced by ionized oxygen as the lightning bolt moves through the atmosphere. But the UV shifted to what’s called an “elve,” which is a different phenomenon entirely. In the case of elves, the light is the result of an electromagnetic pulse produced by the lightning bolt itself. This travels into the ionosphere, a sparse layer of ionized gasses that starts about 728 km above Earth and extends up to roughly where the ISS orbits. Because the pulse takes time to reach the ionosphere, there’s a delay between the lightning and the appearance of the elve.

In this case, that delay was about milliseconds, but the elve persisted for a while. That’s because the pulse spreads like a balloon being inflated, tracing out an expanding sphere above the Earth. Different areas of the ionosphere get excited as the sphere makes its way through, ultimately causing UV emissions to extend over an area of ​​up to kilometers.All of this took place in under (milliseconds.)The authors conclude that, to form an elve, it takes a large pool of charge that gets drained into the lightning bolt rapidly; Otherwise, it’d be impossible to form an electromagnetic pulse without that (past studies have suggested these pools could be hundreds of kiloAmps). This strengthens the idea that there’s a connection between gamma-ray flashes and elves, as both require a significant pool of charge to operate.

Normally, this would be the point when caution about this being a single event would become appropriate. But these observations are generally in line with things that have been seen previously, but they provide an improved spatial and temporal resolution to the many events associated with a lightning burst. If the results were less consistent with what we’ve seen previously, then there would be more reason to worry about this single sampling.

That does not, however, mean that scientists wouldn’t love more data. Finding out whether there might be exceptions to the timing of events seen here, and a good distribution of the range of timings that are possible, should help give us greater confidence in the mechanisms that have been proposed for the many phenomena triggered when a lightning bolt forms.

Science,Payeer. DOI:************************************************. 2010 /science.aax(

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