Lightning is one of the most common yet spectacular events that take place, and it is quite easy to overlook how powerful it is. In the past decade, a large number of researchers have started to study lightning in an attempt to learn more about the magnificent phenomena
Previous research has revealed that it is strong enough to generate antimatter and convert atoms, unleashing a radioactive cloud. The mechanics behind these events have remained a mystery since many high-energy phenomena will take place at the same time.
A team of researchers harnessed the power of an instrument linked to the International Space Station to observe the processes which are generated by a lightning strike and track how the energy spreads from the lightning bolt into the ionosphere via an electromagnetic impulse.
Data were recorded with a device which is known as the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM), a tool that was built by the ESA.
New Details About Lightning Revealed
The impressive tool includes an X-ray detector, a gamma-ray detector, three UV detectors, two optical-wavelength detectors, and two high-speed cameras.
A large number of instruments are needed for the task to understand lightning as may processes take place at the same time when the lightning forms and propagates. It is well-known that the environment in which a lightning bolt forms contains loose electrons, which tend to reach impressive speeds when stimulated by powerful electromagnetic fields.
When the electrons slow down or are forced to follow curve paths, they will lose energy as a type of radiation, which is called bremsstrahlung radiation. The amount of energy that is lost is so big that a significant part is emitted in the form of gamma-rays.
The researchers studied a single lightning bolt that was observed in Indonesia in 2018. It offered valuable information about what happens during the formation of the lightning and when it strikes. More data can be found in a paper that was published in a scientific journal.