Archive for space lightning

Sometimes called “space lightning,” Gigantic Jets and their cousins the sprites are true space weather phenomena.

Posted in 2017, astronomy, Galaxy with tags , , , on July 27, 2017 by MARIE EMMANUELLE QUILICHINI


Sometimes called “space lightning,” Gigantic Jets and their cousins the sprites are true space weather phenomena. They inhabit the upper atmosphere alongside auroras, meteors and noctilucent clouds. Some researchers believe they are linked to cosmic rays: subatomic particles from deep space striking the top of Earth’s atmosphere produce secondary electrons that could, in turn, provide the spark for these upward bolts.

The link to cosmic rays is particularly interesting at this time. For the past two years, space weather balloons have observed a steady increase in deep space radiation penetrating our atmosphere. This increase is largely due to the decline in the solar cycle. Flagging solar wind pressure and weakening sunspot magnetic fields allow more cosmic rays into the inner solar system–a trend which is expected to continue for for years to come. These changes could add up to more Gigantic Jets in the future. Stay tuned!

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Sprites, “Space Lightning”, appeared over a thunderstorm in Oklahoma

Posted in 2016, astronomy with tags , , , on May 26, 2016 by MARIE EMMANUELLE QUILICHINI


Sprites and a “pop-through gigantic jet” over Oklahoma on May 23, 2016. Photo credit: Thomas Ashcraft.

Earlier this week, an enormous cluster of sprites (a.k.a. “space lightning”) appeared over a thunderstorm in Oklahoma.

The outbreak was so intense, it may have warped the ionosphere above it and sparked a rare “pop-through gigantic jet.”

This type of display could become more common as summer thunderstorm season unfolds across the USA.

Visit for observing tips and more information.

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