There is a common say that lightning does not beat twice in the same place. However, scientists have found that this fundamentally contradicts reality: lightning not only beat in the same place with an enviable frequency, but even often spread in the air along the same “channel”.
The international group of physicists tracked an unprecedentedly clear radio wave radiation produced by lightning. This allowed them to determine how the charged air pockets are formed, by which the discharges pass. With the help of Lofar radio telescope, researchers have collected data by which you can track nanoso -icon blows of lightning on an area of several thousand square kilometers.
According to physicist Brian Heir from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, these data are primarily valuable in that they allow scientists to look into the primary processes of the formation of lightning. In addition, the use of a radio telescope allows you to directly “look” into thunderclouds, where most of the charge is condensed.
Despite the impressive flash and thunder, lightning is an ordinary electric discharge caused by the difference in positive and negative charges. And what we see as a zigzag -shaped arc is the result of a complex process, not so much known about the intricacies of the flow of which was still known. The first stage is the formation of a small plasma pocket, that is, the accumulation of heated gas consisting of charged particles. This “thunderstorm” is branched in different directions with great speed, and several such pockets can form a long (up to several kilometers) channel, through which the charge spreads.
The ends of this channel are called “leaders” and can be charged both positively and negatively. Depending on the charge and a number of atmospheric factors, each of them moves along its own unique trajectory. Negative leaders tend to move intermittently (making t.n. “Steps”), while each time producing a high -frequency radio signal. Positive leaders have no single movement model, so they create their own chaotic drawing in the radio wave spectrum.
These contrasting signals give researchers an idea of how the lightning is generated – from the growth of the plasma channel to the light flash at the end. A curious observation was made in the past: it turned out that positively charged leaders could separate from their plasma channel. No one knew why this was happening, and only a huge complex of antennas, which make up Lofar, provided scientists with the necessary information.
It turned out that all this time physicists were mistaken in their judgments. If earlier it was believed that the charge is moving through plasma channels directly from one part of the cloud to another, or towards the earth, now the numbers say the opposite. When leaders are in the area with a sufficient difference in voltage, the electrons are carried through the plasma and “bake” the air to temperatures that exceed heat on the surface of the sun. As a result, some residual charge “seeps” through the breaks in the main channel and spreads around it through thin side tubules, which are called “needles”.
The length of such a “needle” can reach 100 meters, and the width is 5 meters, but they do not exist so much that some systems simply cannot detect them. However, if the difference in the cloud in the cloud again grows to the desired level in a fairly short time, the category will pass through the needles yet, and again. This explains why the zipper generated in the same zone of the thunderstorm cloud often beat in the same place, sometimes up to several tens of times.