What is Blue Jet Lightning? Know about its causes and other details here
Why in News?
The International Space Station's Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor- ASIM observatory recently caught a single blue ‘jet’. It is upward-shooting lightning from a thunderstorm cell, along with four elves, (optical and ultraviolet emissions from the bottom of the ionosphere).
What are the Blue Jets?
- The blue jets can generally not be seen from the ground but for under rarest circumstances. This happens because they are brief and are typically hidden due to clouds.
- It was only in 2019, the instruments on the International Space Station (ISS) recorded five blue flashes and a blue jet that shot into space from a storm cloud. It was recorded from near the island of Nauru in the Pacific Ocean.
- Each of the flashes recorded lasted between 10 and 20 milliseconds. The blue jet crossed an altitude of almost 32 miles above sea level.
What causes Blue Jets?
The blue jets occur when some positively charged upper part of any cloud interacts with a negatively charged layer present immediately above it. This then briefly equalizes both opposing charges which result in a bright blue discharge of static electricity. This is called blue lighting.
The blue jet that was seen over Nauru was seen through optical cameras, photometers, and an X-ray and gamma-ray detector from the International Space Station. The researchers have gone to say that the blue flashes were accompanied by UV light flashes which are also called ELVES.
As per Neubert, “Normal lightning bolts are formed by discharges between oppositely charged regions of a cloud — or a cloud and the ground — many kilometres apart. But turbulent mixing high in a cloud may bring oppositely charged regions within about a kilometre of each other, creating very short but powerful bursts of electric current.”
In the picture below one can see the gigantic blue lightning seen over India recorded by NASA.
Importance of the study:
Understanding Blue Jet Lightning is important because such events could affect the theories of how radio waves travel through the air. This can potentially impact communication technologies.
What is ASIM?
ASIM is a European instrument. It can peer down at lightning from space and it allows researchers to watch the elusive lightning phenomena that were not completely understood after decades of research.
ASIM has various instruments like photometer, optical cameras, and X-ray and gamma-ray detectors. It was delivered and installed on the space station in 2018 to keep an eye on various electrical discharges that occur during giant storms on Earth.