Giant Jets in the Sky over Texas
OKLAHOMA, TEXAS — May 25, 2018
Kevin Palivec, while trying to take some pictures of thunderstorms, photographed several strange lightning events, including giant jets firing up from a thundercloud in Oklahoma.
The line of storms in Oklahoma was ideally located, which helped to record the jets that beat the cloudy peaks at a distance of about 483 km from the camera. Palivec used a black and white camera, a Watec 902h Ultimate in a weatherproof enclosure, located on a 6-meter tower.
Sprites and jets are “exotic” forms of lightning. The most common kind of lightning observed from earth discharges from cloud to cloud or from clouds toward the ground. The more elusive forms, called sprites, take place high above thunderstorm clouds and are visible as streaks of red. Even rarer are those that take place between clouds and the ionosphere where the electric potential is hundreds of kilovolts higher than earth's surface. They are called gigantic jets, and they are extremely powerful. While a typical lightning strike may travel less than ten kilometers, gigantic jets have been observed to shoot vertically up for more than 70 km.
Some researchers believe that they are associated with cosmic rays – subatomic particles from far-away space affect the upper part of the Earth’s atmosphere, producing secondary electrons, which trigger this lightning. If this is true, then sprites and jets will become more frequent in the coming years, because the intensity of cosmic radiation will increase due to the fall of the solar cycle. Although sprites have been observed for at least a century, most scientists did not believe that they existed until 1989, when they were photographed by cameras on board a spaceship.