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Indian scientists measure 1.3-billionth storm, the strongest on record



Thunder (not the one measured in this study), seen from the International Space Station above the Senegal-Mali border.
Photo: NASA / ISS 16 (Wikipedia)

Voltage, once documented by subatomic particles, may not sound much about: muons

Researchers use the GRAPES-3 telescope, which measures muons, particles similar to electrons, but more severe. In particular, gamma-ray astronomy in the PeV EnergieS Phase-3 muonium telescope (GRAPES-3) measures high-energy particles from space called cosmic rays. As a rule, it takes 2.5 million muons every minute, appearing on the 13-by-13 grid in the sky. But during thunderstorms, she is experiencing rapid changes in the number of muons she receives. The GRAPES-3 researchers added electric field monitors to the experiment and developed a method for converting these muons fluctuations into storm voltage measurement.

The storm on December 1, 2014 led to a relatively large 2 percent decline. in the number of muons obtained by experiment. According to their methods, published in Physical Review Letters, this would be equivalent to an electrical potential of 1.3 billion Volt in thunder. This does not apply to any lightning, but the strength of the electric field caused by positively charged water molecules, which is carried by convection to the top of the cloud, while the negatively charged ice remains lower. For comparison, most lightning have 100 million Volts of electrical potential between their ends. The tracks of the metro do not exceed 1000 volts.

This measurement of the voltage is 10 times greater than the previous most powerful observable storm on Earth. The storms with such strong sides can be on some of the other high-energy phenomena we encountered, like terrestrial gamma-bursts. It is important to note that models are not always accurate and require human assumptions. Michael Cherry, a professor of physics at the University of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, told the Physics magazine that this is a unique but indirect way of measuring electric fields during thunderstorms, and the assumptions used in the analysis may not apply to each storm. He suggested that cylinders or unmanned aerial vehicles could be used to perform measurements that improve the model

But this mega measurement can help explain the important mystery. We reported that satellites measured ground-level gamma-ray or gamma-ray bursts. It is assumed that storms cause these TGFs, but thunderstorms were not strong enough to generate gamma rays observed by experiments as the AGILE satellite. But 1.3 billion volts will definitely be strong enough. And if the cloud had to drain this electricity next to you, well, you would die more than one.


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