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Satellite detects strange thunderstorm gamma rays

from Mother Nature Network

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has recently been upgraded to better detect brief yet highly powerful bursts of gamma rays that get produced during thunderstorms. With the upgraded Gamma-ray Burst Monitor scientists hope they will be able to detect 850 terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) each year, still a fraction of the 1,100 TGFs estimated to occur each day. Initial post-upgrade observations are reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics. TGFs are thought to be generated by strong electrical fields at the top of thunderstorms. Certain conditions cause the fields to become strong enough that they send a rush of electrons upward, which then interact with air molecules and give off the gamma rays. This has been correlated with observations by the World Wide Lightning Location Network, and could also be the source of the radio emissions from lightning. Lighting has also been linked to anti-matter and free neutron production. more

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