Scientists on the International Space Station spotted a bright blue lightning bolt from thunderclouds.
Blue jets They can be difficult to see from the ground, as the electrical discharge bursts from the tops of thunder clouds. But from space, scientists can look at this light projection from above. On February 26, 2019, devices on board the space station captured a blue plane launching from a thunderstorm cell near the small island of Nauru in the center of the country. The Pacific Ocean. Scientists described the event in a new report published on January 20 in the journal nature.
Scientists first saw five intense flashes of blue light, each lasting from 10 to 20 milliseconds. Then the blue plane spread out from the cloud in a narrow conical shape that extended into Stratosphere, The layer of the atmosphere that extends from about 6 to 31 miles (10 to 50 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface.
The blue jets appear to appear when the positively charged upper region of the cloud interacts with the negatively charged boundary between the cloud and the air above, according to the report. The blue plane appears as a result of this “electrical breakdown”, in which opposing charges swap places in the cloud and neutralize for a short time, resulting in the release of static electricity. However, the authors note that the characteristics of the blue jets and the height they extend over the clouds are “not well marked,” so this study adds to our understanding of the dramatic phenomenon.
Four of the flashes preceding the blue flow came in with a small pulse Ultraviolet light (UV), scientists note. They identified these emissions as so-called “elves,” another phenomenon seen in the upper atmosphere.
“Elves” – an acronym for light emission and very low frequency disturbances due to electromagnetic pulse sources – are light emissions that appear as rings that expand rapidly in The ionosphere, A layer of charged particles extending from about 35 miles to 620 miles (60 to 1,000 kilometers) above the planet’s surface. Elves occur when radio waves push electrons through the ionosphere, causing them to accelerate and collide with other charged particles, releasing energy in the form of light, the authors write.
The team observed the flashes, elves, and the blue jet using the European Space Agency’s (ASIM) Atmospheric and Space Interactions Monitor, an array of optical cameras, photometers, X ray Detectors and gamma-ray detectors are attached to a module on the space station.
“This paper is highlighting several new phenomena that ASIM detects above thunderstorms,” said Astrid Orr, Physical Sciences Coordinator for Human and Robotic Spaceflight with the European Space Agency (ESA) He said in a statement. Experts also suspect that an upper atmosphere phenomenon, such as blue jets, may affect concentrations Greenhouse gases In the atmosphere, as the ozone layer lies within the stratosphere where it occurs, according to a statement by the European Space Agency.
Originally published on Live Science.