Rare sprites and jets photographed above a thunderstorm

Rare sprites and jets photographed above a thunderstorm

The little-known and photographed atmospheric phenomena known as sprites and jets are captured over a thunderstorm by an observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii. Image: International Gemini Observatory / NOIRLab / NSF / AURA / A. Forgeron

While most know what lightning looks like under a thunderstorm, the phenomenon that occurs above a thunderstorm is less well known and even less photographed. Called jets, sprites, and ELVES, an often colorful and magical light show can be seen above the thunderstorms below.

Known to scientists as a “transient luminous event” or “TLE”, the phenomenon is believed to be caused by electrically induced forms of luminous plasma high above a thunderstorm in the upper layers of the atmosphere.

Among TLEs, the most common are sprites. The sprites appear as bright flashes of red light that occur high above a thunderstorm; in these bright red lightning, octopus arm-shaped tendrils may appear below, bringing a very unusual but brief illumination in the sky. The first color image of a sprite was captured on an airplane in 1994.

The Atmosphere-Space Interaction Monitor (ASIM) is a collection of optical cameras, photometers, etc.Read Additional From Source

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