Giant natural particle accelerators forming above thunderstorms

A lightning researcher at the University of Bath has discovered that during thunderstorms, giant natural particle accelerators can form 40 km above the surface of the Earth…

When particularly intense lightning discharges in thunderstorms coincide with high-energy particles coming in from space (cosmic rays), nature provides the right conditions to form a giant particle accelerator above the thunderclouds…

These are energetic events and for the blink of an eye, the power of the electron beam can be as large as the power of a small nuclear power plant…

The zone above thunderstorms has been a suspected natural particle accelerator since the Scottish physicist and Nobel Prize winner Charles Thomson Rees Wilson speculated about lightning discharges above these storms in 1925.

In the next few years five different planned space missions (the TARANIS, ASIM, CHIBIS, IBUKI and FIREFLY satellites) will be able to measure the energetic particle beams directly.

Dr Martin Fullekrug comments: “It’s intriguing to see that nature creates particle accelerators just a few miles above our heads. Once these new missions study them in more detail from space we should get a far better idea of how they actually work. They provide a fascinating example of the interaction between the Earth and the wider Universe.”

Recently watched a documentary on this phenomenon – minus this latest analysis and understanding – on one of the HD documentary channels. Some superb aerial photography.

RTFA to see how these were predicted and measured.

As natural as these occurrences are – we should be able to get some nutballs going out of their minds on the likelihood of a spontaneous black hole emerging from a thunderstorm and gobbling up the Earth. Or at least Hull.

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