New Findings About Gigantic Lightning Jets

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The Oklahoma jet, the most powerful enormous jet ever researched with 100 times more electrical charge than a typical lightning bolt, was mapped out in three dimensions by scientists. In a study released on Wednesday, enormous supercharged lightning bolt jets were for the first time sketched out. The most potent huge jet studied to date occurred in Oklahoma and had 100 times the electrical charge of a typical lightning bolt, according to research.

According to corresponding author Levi Boggs, a researcher at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, the Oklahoma jet was mapped out in three dimensions in the peer-reviewed study that was published in the journal Science Advances.

With extremely high-quality data, we were able to map this enormous jet in three dimensions, according to Boggs. “We were able to observe very high frequency (VHF) sources above the cloud top, which had never been observed in such detail before. We were able to determine the location of the highly hot leader portion of the discharge above the cloud using satellite and radar data.

“The fact that the gigantic jet was detected by several systems, including the Lightning Mapping Array and two geostationary optical lightning instruments, was a unique event and gives us a lot more information on gigantic jets.”

The researchers identified multiple very high frequency (VHF) radio sources at an altitude of 22–45 km and simultaneous optical emissions close to the cloud top at an altitude of 15-20 km as the Oklahoma jet emerged from a cloud. According to the study, this demonstrated that the VHF sources were generated by tiny structures at the end of the lightning bolt known as streamers and that the streamer discharge activity can extend all the way to the ionosphere.

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Leaders and streamers

Additionally, it was proposed by the data from the 3D radio and optical emissions that networks of VHF lightning detect emissions from the top of streamers rather than the leader, a current that flows behind the tip. The study’s findings were summarised as follows: “The radio and optical data indicate the first clear proof that the VHF witnessed by lightning networks is produced by streamers ahead of the leader.” Doug Mach, a study co-author from the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), highlighted the study’s innovative use of 3D mapping to establish that the lightning’s optical emissions took place much above the clouds’ tops.

He added, “More importantly, this is probably the first time that a gigantic jet has been three-dimensionally mapped above the clouds with the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) instrument set. The fact that the gigantic jet was detected by several systems, including the Lightning Mapping Array and two geostationary optical lightning instruments, was a unique event and gives us a lot more information on gigantic jets. These results could have a significant effect on lightning physics in general, the researchers claim.

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