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Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes

Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) were first reported using data from the Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) onboard NASA's Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO) in 1994.

The short duration (0.2 to 3.5 milliseconds) atmospheric bursts were initially thought to be caused by relativistic runaway electron avalanches acting on natural background radiation, or extensive cosmic-ray air showers - these theories are now discounted.

Current theories include relativistic feedback or runaway electron production in the strong electric fields associated with lightning leaders or streamers, similar to the energetic radiation observed on the ground from lightning.

See :Journal of Physical Research 2008


Also see :Lightningplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigLightning

High powered lightning discharges are happening somewhere on Earth 100 times every second.

A possible mechanism for the very substantial electrical charges within the clouds was put forward in 1978. Following lab-based experiments, it was suggested that the charges arise from the static-electric interactions of graupel (slush) and ice crystals moving within the cloud (due to convection currents caused by widely differing air temperatures) .


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