Hunting mystery giant lightning from space

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Hunting mystery giant lightning from space‘The Nation

Hunting mystery giant lightning from space

London – Thunderstorms are some of the most spectacular events in nature, yet what we can see from the surface of our planet is only the beginning. There are bizarre goings on in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and a new mission aims to learn more about them. Launched to the International Space Station on Monday, the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) will observe the strange electrical phenomena that occur above thunderstorms.Orbiting at an altitude of just over 400km, the ISS provides the perfect view of Earth’s turbulent weather systems. The electrifying effects of storms are frequently observed from the space station. Yet when lightning strikes downward, something very different is happening above the cloud tops. Known as Transient Luminous Events (TLEs), these unusual features were first spotted by accident in 1989. Minnesota professor John R Winckler was testing a television camera in advance of an upcoming rocket launch, when he realised that two frames showed bright columns of light above a distant storm cloud. The discovery came as a shock to scientists at the time, according to Dr Torsten Neubert, ASIM’s lead scientist. “That really surprised all of us. How come this exists and we didn’t know it? Airline pilots must have known about it – there are some anecdotal descriptions,” the Technical University of Denmark physicist said.

For the better part of a century before TLEs were caught on camera, people who spotted them had been reporting “rocket lightning” or “upward lightning”.

Now in need of names, the phenomena were christened sprites and elves because of their fleeting, mysterious nature.

Yet despite their diminutive monikers, these features are anything but small, and extend tens of kilometres into the atmosphere.

Reference

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Hunting mystery giant lightning from space

There are bizarre goings on in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and a new mission aims to learn more about them.

Launched to the International Space Station on Monday, the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) will observe the strange electrical phenomena that occur above thunderstorms.

Orbiting at an altitude of just over 400km, the ISS provides the perfect view of Earth’s turbulent weather systems.

Known as Transient Luminous Events (TLEs), these unusual features were first spotted by accident in 1989.

Minnesota professor John R Winckler was testing a television camera in advance of an upcoming rocket launch, when he realised that two frames showed bright columns of light above a distant storm cloud.

Reference

Kepler solves mystery of fast and furious explosions

The universe is full of mysterious exploding phenomena that go boom in the dark. One particular type of ephemeral event, called a Fast-Evolving Luminous Transient (FELT), has bewildered astronomers for a decade because of its very brief duration. Now, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope’designed to go hunting for planets across our galaxy’has also been used to catch FELTs in the act and determine their nature. They appear to be a new kind of supernova that gets a brief turbo boost in brightness from its surroundings.

Kepler’s ability to precisely sample sudden changes in starlight has allowed astronomers to quickly arrive at this model for explaining FELTs, and rule out alternative explanations.

Researchers conclude that the source of the flash is from a star after it collapses to explode as a supernova. The big difference is that the star is cocooned inside one or more shells of gas and dust. When the tsunami of explosive energy from the blast slams into the shell, most of the kinetic energy is immediately converted to light. The burst of radiation lasts for only a few days’one-tenth the duration of a typical supernova explosion.

Over the past decade several FELTs have been discovered with timescales and luminosities not easily explained by traditional supernova models. And, only a few FELTs have been seen in sky surveys because they are so brief. Unlike Kepler, which collects data on a patch of sky every 30 minutes, most other telescopes look every few days. Therefore they often slip through undetected or with only one or two measurements, making understanding the physics of these explosions tricky.

In the absence of more data, there have been a variety of theories to explain FELTs: the afterglow of a gamma-ray burst, a supernova boosted by a magnetar (neutron star with a powerful magnetic field), or a failed Type Ia supernova.

Reference

Watching: The Nation Hunting, International Space Station, John R Winckler

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Hunting mystery giant lightning from space
on 07th of Apr 2018 Thunderstorms are some of the most spectacular events in nature, yet what we can see from the surface of our planet is only the beginning. There are bizarre goings on in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and a new mission aims to learn more about them. Launched to

Kepler solves mystery of fast and furious explosions
(since Mar, 2018) In the left panel, an aging red giant star loses mass via a stellar wind . for a decade because of its very brief duration. Now, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope’designed to go hunting for planets across our galaxy’has also been used to catch FELTs

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